The NT365 Experiment: Matthew 20

Jason and Mike worked for the same engineering firm. Mike spent his free time during college as an intern at the firm. He had gotten to know the firm’s management team. He had been to dinner with the owner. He walked into a tailored made job with a good salary when after graduation. Jason had spent his college years goofing off. He made decent grades, but spent the majority of his time playing instead of studying. The idea of completing an internship during college was far from his mind. But, when he graduated, the engineering firm was hiring two engineers. He managed to get a job. And though, he had no prior job experience he was hired at the same salary as Mike who had completed the internship. 

Mike was not a happy camper when he found out that Jason’s starting salary was the same as his. He had proven himself, and Jason had not. Certainly we can all understand Mike’s point of view. We can identify and and sympathize with him in his frustrations. He had put the effort in and Jason had not. Yet, he was not rewarded for that effort. That just doesn’t seem fair. 

Some Laborers and Their Wages

Jesus told a similar story in chapter 20. A man had a vineyard, and he needed some laborers to work in it. He found some at 6 am and put them to work. He sent some others into the vineyard at 9 am, others at 12 pm, and others still at 3 pm. All the laborers agreed to work for the same wage — a denarius. The man came across some other men about 5 pm. He sent them into the vineyard to work. He agreed to pay them a denarius too. At the end of the day, the man called all his laborers in from the vineyard to pay them. He distributed the payment to them beginning with those hired last. Everyone received the same wage.

The guys that started working at 3 and 5 pm were thrilled, but those who started at 6 and 9 am were furious. They confronted the vineyard owner about this injustice. He responded, “Take what belongs to you and go…Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or, do you begrudge my generosity?” 

Three Points to Apply

  1. Divine Prerogative and Generosity — This parable teaches us about God’s divine prerogative to distribute his gracious rewards to his people through Christ in any way he chooses. He is the one who owns all things, and he is bound by nothing but his will in the distribution of those things. The call for us is to be thankful for the provision and reward that he has chosen to give us.
  2. A Single Focus on Serving God — We are not to measure our significance and worth by comparing our accomplishments and sacrifices with those of other believers. We are called to focus on serving God with a heart of gratitude in response to his amazing grace.
  3. Fight Self-righteousness and a Sense of Entitlement — In both the stories above, we often can identify more with those who “receive the short end of the stick” than with those who have received the “undeserved blessing.” But, should we? No. The fact that we are laborers in the field is by the grace of God. The fact that he has chosen to pay us anything is a result of his grace. Instead of demanding more payment for our “work” we should be falling at his feet in worship and praise of his grace. Fight the sense of entitlement and self-righteousness that is natural for our sinful nature. You have bee redeemed by God. Celebrate his great redeeming grace.  

 

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