Our scripture this week is Matthew 20:1-16.
For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 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?’ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ 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.’ The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘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.’ “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.
Were you ever part of a group project where one or a few did most of the work, but everyone got the same grade? This story made me think of that and how I felt. It didn’t seem fair that those who did the work weren’t better rewarded.
The key here is “better rewarded”. In human systems and economies that is possible, but in the kingdom of heaven Jesus is teaching about there is no greater reward than being saved to spend eternity in communion with God the Father. Nothing can surpass the joy we will know.
While we see things in earthly terms now, we are told that there will be “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) and the things we thought were so important once won’t matter anymore. We will all be gathered together in God’s love as His children and who did what or earned what will be of no consequence. In the kingdom of heaven we will all be truly happy just to be together with the Lord.
Gracious God, we are a contentious people, always looking at what others have and not satisfied with what is ours. Help us to see that all this is temporary and focus on what matters most – our relationship with You. Amen.