by Gary Carpenter

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Mat 20:16  So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

To correctly understand what Jesus means in this verse, it is critical to understand the fact that the subject of the parable is God's qualifying process to determine those who will be promoted to higher levels of Stewardship. [See the lesson - "Qualifying For Stewardship"].

This portion of the parable is especially revealing:

Mat 20:6  And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

Remembering the context of the Rich Young Ruler's refusal to follow Jesus if it meant giving up what he had personally gained through obedience to the Law, we are endeavoring to unveil the attitude of heart that the Lord desires in His Stewards Of Kingdom Finances. There is no doubt that the Lord is looking for men and women He can trust to steward great wealth to finance massive revivals in these last days. No doubt He is calling "many." Why are there so very few being "chosen?"

The Householder's question to these potential servants was, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" Their answer reveals the root of the problem in their hearts that disqualifies nearly all who are "called" to be Stewards Of Kingdom Finances.

Mat 20:7a  They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us.

Strong's definition of the Greek word translated "hired" is;
3409. misthoo, mis-tho'-o; from G3408; to let out for wages, i.e. (mid.) to hire:--hire.

Why are there so few Stewards Of Kingdom Finances? Because most have the heart of a hireling, not the heart of a bond slave who serves for love's sake alone. I say again, Jesus does not "hire" Stewards Of Kingdom Finances. He "owns" them. They must have the heart of a first class servant as described by Jesus in Luke 17:1-10. They must be servants who do not serve for "personal profit."

I believe with all my heart that there are thousands of people whom the Lord is "calling" to become His Stewards of Kingdom Finances. But for all practical purposes (regarding this office), they are simply standing "idle." Why? For the same reason as the men in this parable. Let me give an example from my own life. In 1994 I was still making a living as a long haul truck driver. As was my custom, I was praying in the spirit while driving on Interstate 40 through Arkansas on February 4th when ... SUDDENLY ... without warning, the Spirit of the Lord manifested His presence in the cab of that truck with me.

His presence was so real and His voice was so clear and distinct that it seemed virtually audible to me. Had there been another person riding with me in the truck, I still do not know if they would have heard His voice or not. Without going into detail (which is not the subject of this lesson), the end result was that He "called" me into full time ministry that day.

He gave me some very precise instructions, one of them being; that this was to be my last run as a truck driver. I was to go full time into the ministry just as soon as this current run was finished. I want the reader to understand, there was no doubt about the "call," not even regarding when to begin.

Like thousands of others, I had received the "call." Here is the important part in the context of this lesson. For ten months after that day, I DISQUALIFIED MYSELF! Why? Because I still had the heart of hireling, not a bond slave. How did I disqualify myself? By refusing to obey without question Him who called me. Why did I not obey Him? Because I wanted Him to "hire" me first! Let me explain.

Being a husband and father, I had the same financial responsibilities as everybody else. I had a car payment to make, utility bills to pay, debts to pay off monthly, and so forth. When the Lord called me into full time ministry the one thing He did not mention at ALL was my "payment." For the life of me I could not understand HOW I could meet my financial obligations if I just simply obeyed Him.

I would never have phrased it like this at the time, but looking back now with perfect 20/20 hindsight, I was "standing idle" [regarding my call], waiting for the Householder to come and "hire" me. With shame I look back now and see clearly that my attitude was, "I will not serve You until You and I agree on a financial arrangement first. You make me an offer, and if 'I' approve of it, THEN I will let you know if I will obey you or not." God forbid! How I praise Him for His mercy, longsuffering, and kindness toward me in those days.

I did not see it like that then. No, at the time it seemed to me that I was just being wise and prudent. My thinking was still that of a hireling who "worked for wages." I had virtually no concept that I was actually a son of God with an inheritance so vast that I could never appropriate it all.

Considering myself to be a potential "employee" of God's, rather than considering myself to be a son and heir who has now been called by my Father to serve in His harvest fields, I was not willing to "serve" unless the Lord made a financial arrangement with me FIRST!

This is precisely the attitude of heart that Jesus was teaching against when He outlined the motivations of a "first class servant" in Luke 17:10. His conclusion to the teaching on faith for stewardship in the Kingdom of God was,

Luke 17:10  So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Paraphrased, Jesus was teaching "Do not serve your God from the motive of 'personal profit.' Do what you do for God from the heart, simply because He has called you to do it. Be His bond slaves, who serve for love's sake alone."

A first class servant always puts the needs of His Master FIRST! By my refusal to obey my Master's "call," I most certainly was putting my own needs first! Truly I had been "called," but by my refusal to obey, I had disqualified myself from being "chosen" as a full time minister of the Lord.

The Householder of Matthew 20 was looking for permanent laborers for His vineyard. Every day He "called" many to come labor in His fields. Notice that none volunteered to come help bring in the harvest unless they were "hired" first.

Even so, the Householder still gave them the opportunity to serve Him. His financial arrangement with them was designed to expose what was truly in their hearts in abundance. All who were serving from the motive of "personal profit" disqualified themselves from being "chosen" for increased stewardship in the Householder's vineyard.

Truly, many are "called," few are "chosen."

Many respond very quickly to the call to become Gospel Entrepreneurs. That seems like a "good" call. But their motivations are usually very "self" serving. They desire to be "first" in this temporary life on earth. When they find out that this call has nothing to do with their personal profit, they choose not to follow Jesus ... just like the Rich Young Ruler. By desiring to be "first" in this life on earth, they are considered to be "last" in trustworthiness as God's stewards.

Mat 20:16  So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Others are more like the son who first said he would not obey, but later did. They have chosen to put themselves last in this life by becoming a bond slave to Christ. They will most certainly be "first" in the next life, just like the twelve who will judge the tribes of Israel. Proper stewardship in this life means greater promotion to stewardship both in this life and in the next.

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