If Then - Part 1: The Carrot

In one of his sermons, author and preacher John Ortberg recalls a time when his wife surprised him with a getaway to Napa Valley wine country.  And as he's driving through the beautiful country, he begins to reflect on all of the work that went into preparing these vineyards.

Then he remembers Proverbs 24 where the writer comments on a vineyard that has gone to ruin.  Ortberg notes that the significant tragedy of a wasted vineyard comes in the value of having land that could be put to use.

He rightfully goes on to point out that, in the Ancient Near East, only the wealthiest of people owned land.  Farmable land was a precious, once in a century opportunity.  That's what made the writer of the proverb so disappointed.  Ortberg goes on to make an insightful comparison:

"Everybody gets a vineyard. When you were born, you got a vineyard. You got your body, your mind, your will, and some relationships. You got financial resources and the chance to do some good work. You got a soul. Everybody gets a vineyard, and that vineyard is your one and only shot on this planet. It's the opportunity of a lifetime, and you don't even have to care for it on your own. God will partner with you.

Nonetheless, God never forces anybody to take action and care for their vineyard. The writer of this Proverb says, "I was walking past a vineyard, and I thought of what it might have been." He sees that the vineyard could have been a thing of beauty. It could have been a source of pride, joy, and income to the owner. It could have been a blessing to everybody around it...But the vineyard the writer observed wasn't any of those things. It fell tragically short of what it might have been. The writer wonders why: Was there some catastrophe? ... No. It was just sheer negligence on the part of the owner of the vineyard. He had no idea what he had. He was throwing away the opportunity of a lifetime."

That is precisely the point of Peter's admonition as well.  If you can add the virtues that we talked about last Sunday to your life, you will avoid being a wasted vineyard.  You will be used to bless yourself and bless others.

I want you to know that God has a plan for you.  This morning I hope you will be encouraged to partner with Him in making that plan a reality.  We have been tremendously blessed with the "opportunity of a lifetime."  May God help us make the most of it.