‘What do you think? There was a man who had two sons…’ (Matthew 21:28-32)
When we look at this parable we perhaps forget that in reality it is not in fact praising either of the two sons in the story – they are both imperfect in their own way. Yes, the one who eventually did as his Father asked does come out slightly better in the story, but what this story teaches us is that there are those who claim to obey God and live by His commandments, but don’t and those who would claim they are happy to go about life in their own way, but then look to God. However, it perhaps goes further than this.
At another level this parable teaches us that there are those whose promises turn out to be so much more than their ultimate actions. They give their word that they will say or do something yet when the time comes for that to be done they fail to do so. Then there are those who will promise very little but ultimately do so much more. As William Barclay once said, ‘promises can never take the place of performance and fine words are never a substitute for fine deeds…’ and in terms of our faith lives it means that our professed faith and our living out of that faith should be equal. No, we are not perfect and yes, we will make mistakes, but ideally we should be saying yes to our Lord and then seeking to act in accordance to His will wherever and whenever we can.