Matthew 20:1-16 - (Jesus said) "For 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."
What a strange story! It's clear that the vineyard owner is in a hurry to get the harvest in. He is in such a hurry that he goes out looking for workers five times in a single day! The sun is hot, and the grapes won't wait. As the day grows shorter, he doesn't even stop to haggle about their wages. That will all be settled later.
Finally it's quitting time. The owner must be in a very good mood, because he's made the decision: full wages for everybody, no matter how long they worked! The latecomers are ecstatic. They never hoped to have such a wonderful reward. But the first group, the ones from the morning—ah, they are angry. Why? Because suddenly the good wages aren't good enough for them anymore. They need one more thing—to see the latecomers suffer by comparison.
Unfortunately, this is an attitude that creeps in among Jesus' followers as well. We, too, are tempted to think we deserve to be "on top" in God's eyes for all our faithfulness. After all, we are cradle Christians, brought up in the faith! (Well, some of us were.) Surely, it's unfair of God to give the same great blessings of love and joy and forgiveness and salvation to those latecomers—to people who "had their party time" and then repented at (say) age seventy?
Against this foolishness, Jesus invites us: Come celebrate! You have the same great blessings, and God is overflowing with joy. There is enough love for everybody—enough grace, enough mercy, enough everything. Rejoice with your generous Master, and with your late-comer brothers and sisters. God's harvest is coming in!
THE PRAYER: Dear Father, help me to rejoice when You bless others and when You bless me, too. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Were you ever envious as a child? How did this affect your pleasure in the good things that belonged to you?
2. When have you really rejoiced in the good fortune of others?
3. What do you imagine the celebration in heaven will be like when all God's people are home?
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"