I said those words but the person I was speaking to was filled with only injustice that they had not received what they ought to have done.
The following story found only in Matthew is not teaching us about salvation or how to gain eternal life because both are not achieved through works. But it is about how we live our lives within the Kingdom of God. Let me come back with 3 simple thoughts. But first …
“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 denariusfor 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.” (Matthew 20 v 1-16)
This parable speaks to us that if ever we feel we are entitled to something because of our work and our commitment then we have lost sight of the real value of who we are and what we are doing within the Kingdom.
The working hours were 6am – 6pm generally speaking in the Jewish world and mind.
The landowner went out at 6am; 9am; 12 noon; 3pm and 5pm. Each hired labourer was given a day’s wages regardless of how many hours they worked. It indicates that the day’s work wasn’t for the wage, it wasn’t about entitlement, but it was about the wonderful opportunity of being in the Kingdom and working for Him.
- You should be thankful: don’t compare what you have been given with what others have.
- You should be thankful: don’t replace your gratitude with self-entitlement.
- You should be thankful: don’t see serving Christ in any other terms than grace given to you for the opportunity.