Bible Stories for the Young

The Two Sons

It’s Not What You Say, but What You Do


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The Two Sons : It’s Not What You Say, but What You Do

Jesus kept on plowing through the hard people’s hearts.

He said, “Here’s another story: A man had two sons. To the first he said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ But the boy was stubborn at first and refused, ‘No, I won’t go.’ Later though, he was sorry and realized he really should do as his father told him. So he jumped up and got to work in that vineyard.

“Meanwhile, the father went to the second son and said the same thing, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ ‘Yes, father! I will!’ the son said enthusiastically. But he never actually got up and started working.

“So what do you say?” asked Jesus. “Who actually did what his father wanted?”

The people answered easily, “The first boy, the one who later changed his mind and obeyed.”

“Right,” Jesus said, looking around at the elders and chief priests. “And the tax collectors and sinners will come into the Expression of My Life on earth before you will. I’m not kidding! I’m telling you the truth! When John came running the road of righteousness, you wouldn’t listen to him! But the tax collectors and sinners did hear and believe! They turned from their stubbornness and started obeying. But even though you saw them believe, you still wouldn’t change or believe.”

What do you think might have happened in between the two sons’ words and their actions?

Maybe that first son reacted and said, “No, I won’t go,” but then in his heart he knew he was wrong and felt bad about how he’d hurt his father.

What about the second son? Maybe he was easily distracted with the things he wanted to do, not really loving his father. Maybe he planned to obey, but didn’t really care to make sure it got done. Or could it be he was one of those pretenders or man-pleasers? (That means he liked for people to think of him as a good boy, so he’d say one thing but do another.)

We should learn from this story Jesus told them: It’s not what you say you’ll do that matters, but it’s what you DO.

So, don’t be the person who says, “Yes, I’ll obey!” because you want to please people, or not get in trouble. Or don’t be the one who actually doesn’t do what you say you will because you’re too lazy or distracted.

And of course, I’m sure that you can think of a third way to answer a father. What about, “Yes, sir!” AND do it?