Our scripture this morning 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.”
Jesus uses the illustration of a landowner hiring workers to teach us about God’s blessings for us. In this story there are workers who have been in the vineyard all day and some who have come late to the job. The landowner makes an agreement with each for a single specified wage. When all the workers are paid the same, those who worked longer are disappointed.
This is a lesson on God’s love for all of us and the huge difference between human standards and eternal blessings. In our economy, when you work longer, you generally receive more compensation. In God’s economy there is only one level of “payment” – everlasting life. All who claim Jesus as their Savior are promised this.
Do we sometimes think there are levels of blessing from God as there are different repayments on earth? This is the mistake that Jesus points out to us in His parable. God can’t love us any more than He already does! His love fills all creation and is given to all of us without measure, no matter how long we have been faithful.
Loving Lord, we are sorry when we squabble among ourselves, seeking more than others receive. Help us to see the joy of a relationship with You that knows no limit. Amen.