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The Baggage of Self-Centeredness

A NOTE FROM PASTOR MARGE    


We are in our fourth week of our Lenten sermon series called, “Baggage.” In this series we have been looking at some “baggage,” those things that stand in our way, run us off track, and block us from living the life promised by our Heavenly Father. The question is not, "Do I have baggage" but rather, it is, “What can be done to set us free from our baggage, from these things in our lives that just weigh us down every single day?” The answer is that we, you and I, can do absolutely nothing on our own. We do not have the ability, the power, or the strength to get rid of our baggage. The only person in the entire world that can set us free from our baggage is Jesus Christ. He is the only one and the only way to a baggage-free life. The baggage we focused on this week was self-centeredness. Self-centeredness is being concerned only with your own desires, needs, or interests. It’s when we think too highly of ourselves.


The parable of the laborers in the vineyard is told by Jesus and is only found in the Gospel of Matthew. We can learn some important lessons about the baggage of self-centeredness from this parable. In the parable, the landowner represents God, and the laborers represent us. We're just standing around every day hoping and praying we can survive this day and make it to the next. We've done absolutely nothing to deserve to work in the vineyard, for an opportunity not only to survive but to flourish and thrive. In fact, we've done so many things that should completely bar us from working on the vineyard, from entering the kingdom of God. Yet, because of God's endless grace, no matter what time of the day it is, there is a place for you and for me in the vineyard. There is a place for you and for me in the Kingdom of God. It's never too late to say yes to the landowner, to say yes to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to say yes to Jesus Christ.


This parable puts things into a bigger perspective for us. That it’s not about us. Rather, it's about God and His unending grace. We must look deeply at what God has done for us. We, who have nothing on our own, have been called to the kingdom of heaven and endowed with the privilege of being Jesus' disciples, with the promise of the greatest reward ever. That reward is eternal life and salvation, made possible by Christ's life, death, and resurrection. A reward that we could never receive without Christ's ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. We, who deserved death, instead are rewarded with eternal life. How in the world is that fair?


When we can take our eyes off of ourselves and focus them instead on the empty tomb, the only appropriate response we should have is gratitude. Gratitude that we get to be co-heirs with and children of God. Gratitude that we have been called into the Kingdom of God. Gratitude for the fact that all that we are, everything that we have, and all that we ever hope to accomplish is a pure, blood-bought gift and our only appropriate response is gratitude. In the light of what our Savior has done for us, for the grace He freely offers to every single one of us, the only appropriate response is grateful worship before the throne of the God who created us and all things.


Today, you are invited to trade in what you have done for what Jesus has already done for you on the cross. It's not about what you've done, it's about what has already been done for you. It's about Christ's work on the cross and His defeat of the grave. But often, the greatest hurdle is our own pride and self-centeredness. You are invited to step off the throne of your own life and instead, let the Lord Jesus Christ take His rightful seat as Your only Lord and sacrificial Savior.


Amen.


— Pastor Marge 




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