Summary: Every follower of Jesus has to make the choice to use the gifts God gives and believe they are enough, or ignore them.
Jesus tells a story about a small business owner.
In this story the owner of a vineyard employs some day laborers early in the morning. They agreed to work for a days wage. Later in the day the owner noticed some unemployed folks and asked them if they wanted a job for the day, and they agreed to work for a fair wage. Three more times during the day the owner hired laborers to work for the day in his vineyard, even hiring a crew an hour before quitting time.
At the end of the day all the laborers lined up to be paid by the owner. The owner paid all his employees the same wage. A days pay for a days work. Those who had worked in the heat of the sun all day long were angry that those who only worked for an hour received the same wage.
"That's not fair!" They murmured. "We deserve more pay for working all day than those who only work for an hour." But the owner responded, "It's my money, I'll do with it what I want." And then he asked a question, "Should you be jealous that I am kind to others?"
Jesus has two priorities. He loves God and others and He obeys God. When Jesus teaches about God stuff these two priorities are always a part of the plot and the meaning. In this parable the workers who worked all day but received the same pay as those who only worked an hour were not loving to those who were hired later in the day. They were jealous and angry. When God defines what love is he tells us specifically that "love is not jealous."
This story is not about jealousy, though, it's about God's gift of eternal life for those who follow Jesus. My Great Grandpa Dave made the decision to be a Jesus follower and was baptized when he was on his death bed. In this story my Great Grandpa is the laborer who was hired in the last hour. He didn't work as hard or as long as the other workers but my Great Grandpa enjoys the same gift as I do even though I've worked as a follower of Jesus since I was 14.
So if I'm like the workers in this story, should I be jealous that my Great Grandpa is in heaven even though he was a follower of Jesus for only a few days? Of course not! My Great Grandpa doesn't deserve to go to heaven, and neither do I. No human being deserves to go to heaven. Jesus was the only human being who lived a life worthy of heaven. No one else will ever live a life worthy of heaven. God gives this gift to those who decide to follow Jesus. This gift is called grace.
It might sound like a ridiculous question, but, many people who claim to be Christians struggle with the answer. Is the grace of Jesus enough? Through Paul God tells us that His grace is sufficient. And the Hebrew writer concludes chapter 4 this way, "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most."
And yet many of us struggle with the understanding that God's grace is all we need. Just like the jealous workers in this story we struggle with the idea that it is the gift of God that matters not our labor.
Here's what I learn from this story.
I will use what God gives with thankfulness because His gifts are all I need
Obviously the most important gift God has given the world is Jesus. God gives us grace through Jesus but He also gives us much more. If I share the same priorities as Jesus: I love God and others and I obey God, then I understand that what God gives is enough. It's when I'm struggling to be loving that I feel jealous, or envy. When I lose my focus to live for Jesus and start to live for myself then I feel greed and hate. The Hebrew writer says, "...let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus..."
There are four gifts that God gives that help me "keep my eyes on Jesus" while I walk this temporary life. The first gift is His Word. The Bible. The Bible is a gift from God. Especially the words of Jesus. These are eternal words. Paul tells me that the Bible is the gift that God has given to me to teach me right from wrong and equip me to work for Him. I have all that I need to know to be a follower of Jesus written in the Bible. The Bible provides me with strength when I'm weak. Courage when I'm scared. Peace when I'm worried. The Bible doesn't just help me with my problems, the Bible also instructs me on how to live.