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.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17). This is the Tenth Commandment, part of the Law given to the children of Israel after their release from Egypt, and it is an important point for us to learn. We see the effects of jealousy in this lesson, and it can corrupt human thoughts and actions.

While the workers all received the same payment, some didn’t have to work as long as others to receive it. In human terms, this may seem unfair, but when we look at salvation, it is a completely different matter. Consider the thief crucified with Christ who asks Jesus to remember him when He comes into His kingdom. Jesus replies “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). Jesus promised that all who claim Him as Lord and savior can have eternal life.

Jesus didn’t compare this man’s “works” with those of the disciples or anyone else. His love for us isn’t like that. We may be wayward family members but when we confess He is the Messiah, we can be redeemed to eternal life no matter what has gone before. Turning to Him in repentance is the only way we can be saved.

Gracious God, in Your love You sent Jesus for our salvation. Help us to accept the blessing of forgiveness and live new lives through Your mercy. Amen.

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