The parable of the workers in the vineyard
Today’s reading: Matthew 20 – Verses 1-15 (New King James Version)
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’
8 “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 9 And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
(End of Bible reading)
What does this mean to you? Why is this scripture important?
If you spent your entire life praising God and obeying His laws, would you expect to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Of course you would! What about if you ignored God all of your life and did not obey His laws, would you then expect to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Of course you would not. But what if this same person, late in life, repented for his or her sins and turned to the Lord for mercy and forgiveness, would that act make up for all those years of doing wrong? Well, according to the parable of the workers in the vineyard, turning to the Lord late in life is like being hired by the vineyard owner near the end of the day, and being allowed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is like the worker that was idle all day until the eleventh hour receiving a full day’s pay, the same as the worker who was hired at the start of the day, or in comparison to the parable, like the person who worshiped God from the beginning!
The parable is not about what is fair, it is about what is right! The beauty behind this scripture is that it is never too late to change your wicked ways, repent, and turn to God. Whether you were there from the beginning or turned to God in the “eleventh hour,” you are part of God’s Kingdom.
Most Christians would find fault with this, but in God’s eyes, this shows selfishness. Yes, you should be proud that you have devoted you entire life to God, but you should not let your selfishness deprive others of the same opportunity that you had all along.
Let’s look at another example, one that actually happens to many of us. If you were born poor, and were poor all of your life, and then about the time of retirement, after working hard your whole life, you finally become wealthy and are able to leave an inheritance to your heirs. Is that fair? Is it right? Does it matter how you achieved wealth? If you worked hard your whole life unsuccessfully and finally discovered the formula for success, is that better or worse that if you became wealthy because you were lucky enough to win the grand prize in a state lottery?
Either way, it doesn’t make a bit of difference. No matter what it was that caused your wealth, the fact is that you are now rich after being poor your whole life. And that is the point behind the parable – it doesn’t matter what method was used to give your life to God, the important thing is that you did, whether it was a lifetime effort or a last minute decision. Yes, it is natural to feel that you are better than the others because you followed God your whole life, and the other person “snuck in just under the wire,” but although that is a natural feeling, it is not a Godly feeling! And that, my friends, is my message!
“Dear God, I thank you for taking an interest in my life so that I was able to discover that you are the way and the truth and the life. My prayer today is that others are able to discover what I have held in my heart so that none of my brothers and sisters here on Earth will be denied the pleasures of the Kingdom of Heaven. I accept the mission to bring the good news of salvation to those who are ignorant of your Word, and I ask that you empower me to reach out to as many people as I can so that my family, friends and neighbors may spend eternity with me in the grace of God. I ask this through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”