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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"A Lesson in Grace: Equal Pay for Unequal Work"

October 11, 2004

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“Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you.” Matthew 20:14

Jesus tells a parable. A landowner goes out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agrees to pay each worker one denarius for the day. He then goes out again at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, 3:00 p.m., and finally at 5:00 p.m., each time hiring additional laborers. When day is done, the workers collect equal wages. The full-day workers complain but are told they are receiving exactly what has been agreed upon.

We learn a lesson in grace with three parts. First, working in God’s vineyard (kingdom) is a privilege. Workers gathered in the marketplace with their tools, desperately needing work because one denarius was required to put food on the table for the family. Today God gives us the privilege of entering His kingdom and serving Him there. The alternative is spiritual hunger and deprivation.

Second, workers are chosen by grace alone. In the parable the owner didn’t choose workers based on their merit but simply because he desired to give them work. We are not chosen for God’s kingdom because we are such good workers. No! Sinners all, lazy, rebellious, self-righteous, we don’t deserve the Kingdom. Our work record cannot stand before God for a moment. No, we are chosen by God’s grace for Christ’s sake through faith.

Third, workers are compensated by grace alone. In the parable all the workers were given the same pay no matter how long they worked. Each, therefore, had enough to put bread on the table that day. Yet the all-day workers complained. We often complain too as we compare ourselves with others. But God gives eternal life in heaven to all who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, whether they are lifetime believers or deathbed converts. All by grace.

PRAYER: Dear Father, help me to work for the Kingdom joyfully and willingly, by Your grace. Amen.

(Devotions from “My Daily Devotion” by Dr. Stephen J. Carter, copyright 1988 CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For ordering information, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit

Today's Bible Readings: Micah 1-3    Acts 21:1-17

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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