"I planted the seed... but God made it grow." -- I Cor. 3:6

"The greatest of all gifts is the power to estimate things at their true worth..." La Rochefoucauld, "Reflexions"

In the well known parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20) the Lord compares the kingdom of heaven to a landowner "who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard." One notion that can be extracted from this parable is that there is plenty of work to do. And not only is there work to be done, the master of the vineyard is quite anxious that it be completed, for we see that as the day progresses, he returns again and again to find men who would come and work for him.
As human beings, we have varying degrees of responsibility. For some it is providing for our families, for others simply maintaining order in our rooms, and others still as leaders in our communities. But as servants of God, we know also that we have another order of responsibility: there is kingdom work to do. In our rush and tumble world we can often find ourselves forgetful of our higher calling. Especially at Christmastime. Let's make sure we pause now and then to reflect... Why am I here? Who am I failing to serve because I am so busy with things that, in the eternal scheme of things, are so fleeting and temporary? What is the real work I should be doing?

One of my favorite passages during the Christmas season is that found in Luke chapter two, the story of the shepherds watching their flocks on the hills of Bethlehem. There is no indication that these were particularly spiritual people, nor learned people. They were shepherds, just doing their jobs. Yet it was to these that the angels came. These ordinary people, like you and me, were the first to whom the Lord Jesus was revealed.
Knowing human nature as I do, I have often conjectured that there were a few shepherds missing from those hills who also missed the most remarkable event in history. The Roman census had drawn thousands to Bethlehem. Is it possible that some shepherds were absent because of all the goings-on in town? Parties, activity, etc.
The faithful shepherds may have even felt a little left out, like they were missing something. Of course, we know who missed out. Faithfulness and responsibility are coins with great value, and the rewards of faithful service exceed all that we can imagine.

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