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Summary: God's overwhelming generosity is difficult to comprehend, though every Christian has experienced that generosity. We must avoid attempting to cast God in our image, learning instead of the extravagant grace with which He showers each of us.

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“The kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So, they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So, the last will be first, and the first last.” [1], [2]

It's getting dark; it is obvious that she is nervous and worried by the way she is pacing. She has swept the dirt floor several times and rearranged the rugs. She keeps staring into the darkness. It is growing late, and she begins to pray, “O LORD, my God, where is my Joseph? Where is he, LORD? It is getting late and I know he didn't find work today. I went to the marketplace and I saw him still standing there late in the afternoon. O LORD, where is he? Has something happened to him, or is he too ashamed to come home again empty handed?”

Her prayer is broken by a tug on her dress. It's her five-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. Little Elizabeth asks, “Mama, where is Daddy? Why has Daddy not come home yet? Is he bringing us something to eat? Mama, I'm hungry.” At that moment the door burst open and Joseph shouts, “Hello, Lizzy! How’s my big girl?” Grabbing his wife, he kisses her and nearly laughs, “Hello, Honey!” She is startled, confused—she certainly wasn’t expecting this. He’s not drunk, but he is certainly acting strangely, not at all like a man dejected by failure.

“Prepare the table,” he almost shouts. “We are going to have a feast! Look! I brought bread; we can have it with the cheese I’ve brought. I have figs! And for the two women in my life, there is a little bit of honey!”

Confusion marks Rebecca’s face as she questions what she is witnessing. “Joseph, where did you get this food? I know you didn't work. I went past the marketplace and I saw you standing there late in the day.”

He grins broadly as he says, “The most amazing thing happened today. I was standing in the marketplace waiting for someone—anyone—to come hire me. The day was getting late and many others had given up. Some had found work even in the middle of the day; there were just a few of us left standing there. I just couldn't come home empty-handed again. I couldn't stand another night just lying in bed, knowing that my girls had not eaten. The growling of my empty stomach could not drown out Lizzy’s words, ‘Daddy, I'm hungry.’

“I was almost ready to give up when around the eleventh hour the most unusual thing happened. A man came up and he yelled to us, asking why we weren't working. Several of us said, ‘No one has hired us.’ He said, ‘I'll hire you! Come on and work!’

“I knew it was late and there wouldn’t be much in the few minutes of work; but I decided that a few pennies were better than nothing, so I went and worked in his vineyard. There were people there who had been working a long time. You could tell they were tired and hot and dusty. The few of us that went at the end of the day worked for only an hour.

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