“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the workers on one denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. When evening came, the owner of the vineyard told his foreman, ‘Call the workers and give them their pay, starting with the last and ending with the first.’ “When those who were hired about five came, they each received one denarius. So when the first ones came, they assumed they would get more, but they also received a denarius each. When they received it, they began to complain to the landowner: ‘These last men put in one hour, and you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat! ’ “He replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I’m doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me on a denarius? Take what’s yours and go. I want to give this last man the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my business? Are you jealous because I’m generous? ’ “So the last will be first, and the first last.” Matt. 20:1-2, 8-16
“For the Kingdom of God is like . . .” began Jesus as He told the crowd a parable (a story about ordinary people doing seemingly ordinary things, but with a message that has eternal significance). “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard”.
So the guy goes out looking for temporary day laborers for his vineyard. Early in the day He hires several for the price of one denarius, an acceptable for that day. Later, about 9am, he hires more workers. During the afternoon he finds even more. 3 pm rolls around, and he’s still hiring!
When it was time to quit, he lined the workers up to pay the, beginning with find most recently hired, ending with the ones who had worked all day. The first group files through and he pays them one denarius. As word of what he paid the first group make its way back through the line, the other groups of workers gre excited as they thought, if He paid them one denarius to work a part of the day, just think how much he’ll pay those of us who labored all day. As the 2nd group filed past, then the third and four, it became clear they were all getting the same amount! How could this be fair? Some of us worked hard all day, in the heat and the sun”?
The land owner answered, “why are you upset?” I gave all of you the one denarius that I promised you-you got what you bargoned for!’ “Are you jealous because I’m generous?”
How easily we can fall into to trap of being envious of others blessings!
Now this principal is a two-edged sword. On one side we have to realize that God gives different assignments to different people-we’re not the same, but all are important. In an army, some control coordinates from a secure location, whileq others are “boots on the ground”, engaged in close, sometimes even hand-to-hand combat. Obviously the ones an the ground suffer more, risk more and are more worn out, BUT, both are important to form a successful army, right on up to the guy dressed in a suit, negotiating conditions of peace. By the same token, ALL of us, at one point or another should realize that all of the work necessary for obtaining salvation was done by Jesus on the cross!
In the big picture and in the parable, Jesus’ point is simple and plainly stated, “So the last will be first, and the first last” (vs16). In this case, the first chosen were the last rewarded, but I think part of Jesus’ concept is what motivates us to work.
The men in the story were working to make money, but often we struggle to veiw what we do for God to be a RESULT of salvation, NOT TO PRODUCE IT.
A popular belief is that when we stand before God, if our good works out-weigh our bad, we’ll make the heavenly “cut”. Jesus, however, plainly taught that He was the Way to Heaven and that NO ONE would get there without going THROUGH HIM (John 14:6).
The ONLY deed good enough to secure salvation and heaven was the one done on CALVERY by Jesus!
Ephesians teaches that
we are GOD’S good deeds and that we’re created IN JESUS to DO GOOD WORKS (Eph 2:10)!
So work hard for God, not in order to earn His love-but BECAUSE of His love! Know that He’s ALWAYS GOOD, that He gives GOOD GIFTS to ALL of us (James 1:17), His grace is extended to all of us and that He will SURELY reward our good works on that day when ALL good and ALL motives will be displayed publically (Rom 2:6-11).
Look to Jesus to obtain salvation-His finished the work of obtaining it.
Work at the assignment He’s given you, out of your love for Him.
Think about it!