MY BEAUTIFUL REWARD
Mighty God, help me today to learn to be confident without being arrogant, sensitive without being overwhelmed, and faithful to you.
Read MATTHEW 20:1–16
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
- Matthew 20:2 A denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectSpend a few moments in wonder at your personal experience of God’s grace.
Grace isn’t fair! That’s the central point of this parable, told as an illustration of the kingdom principle that ‘many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first’ (19:30; 20:16). This simple, but brilliantly crafted story contributes to the education of the disciples in the ‘new world order’, which was arriving in and through Jesus’ ministry. As listeners and readers, they and we are led to expect that those hired first to work in the vineyard will receive substantially more than those who were hired only late in the day. Then, to discover that all the workers receive the same wage (vs 9,10) seems like an outrage, at least from a secular employment point of view. The divine storyteller has very effectively teased out our inherent capacity for making God in our own image.
It’s not that grace is unjust – all the hired workers received at least a fair wage – it’s just that grace doesn’t conform to the rules of a world where efforts dictate rewards. Rather, grace creates a new world – one in which a proper appreciation that each and every blessing flows forth from God’s lavish generosity toward people who are all equally undeserving, leaves absolutely no room for disgruntled envy (v 15).
Bring before God those whom you (secretly) consider to be less deserving of his grace than you. Ask for his forgiveness, and for his help to become yourself an open channel of his grace to them.
Loving Lord, I rejoice today in your large-heartedness. I’m thankful that your grace is not limited to my understanding of fairness. I bless your name.
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