'‘No, I don’t want to,’ he replied. But later he changed his mind and went.
“The father said the same thing to the other son, who replied, ‘Yes, sir.’ But he didn’t go.
“Which one of these two did his father’s will?”
They said, “The first one.”
Jesus said to them, “I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering God’s kingdom ahead of you. For John came to you on the righteous road, and you didn’t believe him. But tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. Yet even after you saw this, you didn’t change your hearts and lives and you didn’t believe him.
Many of us have heard of the men's movement called 'Promise Makers'. It was a wonderful renewal movement for men. Wait a minute, it wasn't called 'Promise Makers', it was called 'Promise Keepers'. We better know the difference between making and keeping promises. What counts is not the promise, but the performance.
How We Act
How we act is what counts, not what we say. A hypocrite is someone who says one thing and does another. Saying, "no", is better than saying, "yes", and meaning, "no". That's called lying. What if we delude ourselves into thinking that we are 'yes' people, but we are we lead a 'no' life?
Yes People Or Honest People?
Jesus does not want 'yes men' and 'yes women'. He wants honest people. The son in the parable who said, "no", was the one who did the father's will. The son who said, "no", later changed his mind to, "yes". God honors the 'no' of people.
A Clear No Is Better Than A Fake Yes
Imagine someone in your life who says, "no". They say, "no", to something. Maybe going to a movie, going to a place, having a particular food for dinner. "No", is not the answer you wanted. You are disappointed, but at least you have your answer.
Now, imagine someone else in your life, who says, "yes", but they don't deliver. Some people call that 'crazy making'. How does that person make you feel and what do you want to do with that relationship? We feel bad and we want to not have relationship with them. But, what if that person is in our family? Then, it is painful. We learn not to trust.
'Pretend People Of God'
Jesus spoke this parable against the fakes and the hypocrites that were pretend people of God. They were mouthing one thing, but doing another. This is the kind of person I do not want to be.
Changing Your Mind Is OK
People who change their minds are on the right track. It is a good thing to change your mind. It is a good thing to admit you were wrong. It is a good thing to receive new revelation that shifts your thinking and changes your mind. We are meant to be life long learners. As we learn more, our minds are supposed to be humbled and we keep reforming our thinking.
A young pastor with three or four of his own children, gave a message on child rearing in which he have a list of ten to twenty tips or "how-to's". Ten or fifteen years later, he had disgarded all but a few of these tips and admitted that they don't work generally. He was a life long learner and he changed his mind.
Don't Be Insane
Insanity is when you keep doing the same thing and it is not working. Life long learners have the humility to course correct, admit they were wrong, apologize if necessary, and go back the task, getting better results.
There is something called a paradigm shift, where we say, "I never saw it that way before", and, "in light of this new way of seeing things, I will make these changes in how I live". That is a change of mind. I heard a man speak recently, who had been a Christian about 63 years, who said he has gone through about 16 paradigm shifts.
Jesus has been his Lord and Savior for all these years, but he has learned big new things along the way. If you have never had a shift in thinking, where you see things in a new way; you might be missing out.
It Is Delusional To Believe You Are Done Learning
It is always a delusion to think you have arrived, spiritually and have it all. Remember how Jesus said, "unless you become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of God"? The man I referred to is very child-like. Children are honest when they say, "no", and honest when they change their minds. Children are curious. Life is always opening up for them. They are learning constantly. Jesus wants us adults be like that.
Do It, Live It, Be It
Jesus said that the one who builds his house on the rock that withstands the storm is the one who hears his words and does them. You can't just say you are building your life on Jesus' teachings. "I've listened and now I am standing on what he said." We sing, "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand..." Sounds good, but what is the rock? The rock is Christ. Didn't you just hear the song?
But what did Jesus say about building on the rock? He said that those who build their lives on the rock are the ones who do his words. Do, do, do, do. Not, listen, nod, comprehend, believe, talk about it, write about it, shouting, preach it, talk on the radio or television about it. No. The ones who make it through the storm are those who do Jesus words.
Better To Be Cold Than Lukewarm
Remember the church of Laodicea (Re. 3:14-22)? Jesus said he they were lukewarm, but happy this way and he rebuked them, telling them that they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Jesus wants a people who are hot or cold rather than lukewarm. This reminds me of the parable of the two sons, called to work in dad's vineyard. The son who said no was cold, then he said yes and went hot. The other son said yes, but did not go to work. He was pretending to be hot, but he was really cold; and I will call him lukewarm.
Have you ever said no to something and then, to your astonishment, you changed to yes and were so glad you did? You might still say no to things and yes to many other things and that is normal and good. God built us to have choice. What this parable teaches us is that God can work with people who say no to him and he honors their no.
We had a famous author come to our church once, and at the end he had people stand to make a covenant to promise something to God and it was a good thing that I believe in. But I chose not to stand and make the promise, because I wanted to be a promise keeper, not a promise maker. I had to think about it and let Jesus disciple me in that area, so that I would have a rock there.