Summary: Does God's generosity make you angry? How do we live in God's kingdom in comparison with what other people are doing and we are doing?
9.24.23 Matthew 20:1–16 (EHV)
1 “Indeed the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing to pay the workers a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 He also went out about the third hour and saw others standing unemployed in the marketplace. 4 To these he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will give you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6 When he went out about the eleventh hour, he found others standing unemployed. He said to them, ‘Why have you stood here all day unemployed?’ 7 “They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ “He told them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8 When it was evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last group and ending with the first.’ 9 “When those who were hired around the eleventh hour came, they each received a denarius. 10 When those who were hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But they each received a denarius too. 11 After they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner: 12 ‘Those who were last worked one hour, and you made them equal to us who have endured the burden of the day and the scorching heat!’ 13 “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not make an agreement with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last one hired the same as I also gave to you. 15 Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 In the same way, the last will be first, and the first, last.”
Let Me Tell You a Story of Perplexing Generosity
Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. DEI. There is a movement in America to try and not just have equal opportunity, but also equality of outcome, and that just plain angers some people. If I work harder and longer hours than someone else I work with, I don’t want them getting paid from my work and getting what I make. That’s not fair at all, yet that’s what this parable seems to promote. Everyone ends up with the same amount, even though there are some that only work for only one of the 12 hours. How can this be?
Reviewing the parable again, only the people at the BEGINNING of the day agree for a denarius, which was a typical day’s wage. When it came to the third hour, he only said, “I will give you whatever is right.” He doesn’t even talk about wages with the sixth, ninth, or eleventh hour people. Maybe he said the same thing to them, “I’ll give you whatever is right.” So the last people only worked one hour, but they didn’t know what they were going to get for pay. They were just happy to have a job. They trusted the landowner to be fair. Yet they all ended up with a denarius, which again was typically what you’d get for a whole day of work, not an hour of work. However, the landowner didn’t take from the denarius of those who worked the full day. He just paid the same from his OWN account. So it’s different from that aspect.
We assume that Jesus is talking about people who work for God in His kingdom while still on this earth. When God calls you into His kingdom, He brings you to a living faith in Jesus, not a dead faith. Jesus does all the work of our salvation. He gives it to us by grace. He washes our sins away in baptism. He makes us look holy. That’s the easy part, at least for us, as we do none of the work and He does ALL of it. Yet even though salvation is free, He doesn’t call you to do nothing. He calls you to work while you are a part of this kingdom. Pick up your cross, and follow me, Jesus says. James writes that faith without works is dead.
As you try and resist temptation and live out your faith you realize how difficult this really is. Pornography is not a good thing. You know you have to resist it. You know how God wants you to speak with your spouse with patience and kindness, even when you are tired and worn out. This is not an easy thing. You know just how easy it is to fall in line at school or work with the “I don’t care” attitude. You know how easy it is to be lazy and not take time to spend with your children or do what your parents ask you to do. You know how tempting it is to not be generous with your time and your money, and how difficult it can be to share what you have with others. Yet this is part of the deal. The Holy Spirit moves into you and He changes your mind and your will and your desire. You KNOW from the Word of God how the LORD wants you to work, and if you take your Christianity seriously you can become frustrated by your own failures and the failures of those around you, especially as you see fellow Christians who are lazy and not doing what they could or they should. They are in some instances bringing embarrassment to the church and to Jesus.