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.
The workers in this story illustrate an earthly understanding that those who work more should expect to earn more. Jesus wants us to see that there is nothing we can do to earn our way to salvation at all. It is only through God’s forgiveness and the gift of His love that we may be saved.
The work we do is a response to His love, not a means of attaining it. If we believe we can work our way into heaven we are missing the point of our call – a relationship with God through Jesus. When we try to do it on our own, we will never be successful.
God blesses us and calls us into connection in order to change our feeling of working for ourselves and our own good into a life of service to Him and others. With this gift we see the need for our work in the world and go in His name rather than for our gain or satisfaction. God has work for each one of us according to His plan and direction.
Gracious God, we know our weakness and that without You our efforts are futile. Help us to hear Your guidance and follow the path You have set for us. Amen.