The Grace for Second Thoughts

January 18th, 2013 · by Tom Stuart · Relationship with God

What do you think?  There was a man who had two sons.  He went to the first and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.”  ‘I will not,” he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, “I will, sir.” but did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?  “The first,” they answered.”  Matthew 21:28-31 NIV

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t judge you on your first response or initial reaction to things?  I know I am.  With God, it is what you do in the end that counts.  More times than I care to admit my first response to God’s initiative in my life has been the wrong one, as it was for this first son in the parable that Jesus told.

Saying “no” to an authority figure like a parent or a boss is one thing.  Saying “no” to God is quite another.  Jesus was very pointedly using the story of these two sons to contrast the two divergent ways people tend to respond to His direction in their lives. (Matthew 21:32)  On one hand we have the tax collectors and prostitutes, who were notorious for their initial “no’s” to doing the right thing and righteous living.  But the Gospel message so softened their hearts that they finally, upon second thought, said “yes.”  Through repenting of their self-willed ways they eventually put their faith in Jesus as God’s son.  On the other hand, there were the chief priests and elders who feigned compliance to the will of God, but in the end, did not follow through, repent of their self-willed ways nor accept Jesus as Messiah.

I have several grandchildren who are in the toddler stage.  They are sweet and loveable and a big part of my world revolves around them.  But one thing they always remind me of is the stubbornness of our fallen nature.  We all from birth have a will of our own and given the right circumstances we will voice it in either passive or aggressive ways.  It never ceases to amaze me how a stubborn will in such a little body can so fearlessly challenge the will of someone so much bigger, stronger and wiser.

It makes a God fearing man appreciate the patient endurance and love of our Heavenly Father in putting up with His self-willed children, of which I can fully identify.  I once thought that the time would come, especially after walking with God for a number of years, that I would eventually arrive at a place where my consistent first reaction to His leading in my life would be one of trusting, joy-filled compliance. Although my batting average has improved somewhat, I still, like my adorable grandchildren, periodically have my moments.

That is why I have come to appreciate this parable so much.  It reinforces the fact that there is a grace with God for second thoughts and space allowed for us to change our mind.  Depending upon the nature of our present circumstances first thoughts can sometimes be distorted and deceive us.  We can be having a bad day, be irritated with someone or something, be down on ourselves or simply be tired.  Or maybe, just maybe, our “no” could be the result of a well-reasoned and prayerful decision that missed the mark.  Regardless of why our initial response put us at odds with God’s will, the wonder is that He extends His grace to allow for second thoughts.

This is one of the best illustrations there is of the gift of repentance.  Repentance is nothing more, nothing less than the opportunity given to change one’s mind.  The word itself comes from the Greek word metanoia which literally means “change of mind.”

Pause for a moment and reflect.  Is there anything in which you have said “no” to God that He is waiting patiently for you to say “yes”?  Put aside any excuses, regret or shame and receive His grace for second thoughts so freely extended to you.  Whisper “Yes Lord, have thine own way, you are the potter I am the clay.”

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2 Responses to “The Grace for Second Thoughts”

  1. Wonderful reflection on God’s grace for us! I think that I say “no” to God at first more than I care to admit. I really enjoy reading what you post! More importantly, God speaks to me through what you post. Thanks!

  2. God’s grace to transform our “no”s into “yes”s never ceases to amaze. He really does “work in us both the will and to do His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

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