Passage to Read
Laborers in the Vineyard, Matthew 20:1-16.
Point to Ponder
We all have expectations about what we deserve, and if we’re honest, most of those expectations are shaped by making comparisons. We think, “So-and-So got this, so I should get that.” We compare our value against other people and make conclusions.
Usually this works out okay. Corporate human resource departments, for instance, try to establish pay scales so that people are treated equally and fairly. But we can get offtrack if we think God works this way. God is fair and just, but if we’re trying to figure out what we deserve based on what we see other people have or are experiencing, we take our eyes off God’s grace and start questioning His goodness.
Jesus tells a story about a man who owns a vineyard. He needs workers to come and help with the harvest, so he goes out early in the morning to hire some men. They agree to a denarius — about the same as $100 — for the day. They shake hands and get working.
But it turns out the vineyard owner still needs more help. He has too many grapes for these guys to handle. So a few hours later he heads back out and hires more workers — again for $100. Yet the crop is still too big and the workers too few. He has to go out three more times throughout the day to get enough help. Each time he offers and the men accept $100. So there are five groups of people all earning the same amount of money, but not all working the same amount of hours. You can already see the train wreck this is going to be, right?
Here’s what happens. The last men to get hired get paid first. The paymaster hands over the $100, as they agreed. And it’s the same with the next group, and the next, and the next. All this time the first group of guys is dreaming about how they’re going to get a bonus. After all, they worked longer. But much to their surprise, when it’s their time to get paid, they step up and see the same $100, and they are mad — and oh, do they have something to say about it!
“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,” they complain. But the vineyard owner is unmoved. “Friend,” he says, “I am doing you no wrong.” If you think about it, no one was getting shortchanged; both parties agreed on the $100. But now we come to the heart of it:
“I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?” Wow!
Here is how this applies to the God-first life. If we are honest, there are times when this same type of attitude can creep into our worship.
Instead of being thankful for what God has given us, we start looking at other people around us and wondering — even questioning — why God is blessing them more than us (or at least, so it seems).
The simplest way to guard against this is to remain thankful and to focus on His glory and His goodness toward us, remembering that God is gracious to everyone who signs on to work the vineyard.
Prayer to Offer
Jesus, I repent for looking at others and comparing what I have with what other people have. Keep my heart from silly comparisons; let me be grateful for the goodness You have shown me. It is already infinitely more than I deserve, and I thank You for it. Instead, let me encourage the workers who come later to the field. In Your name, Amen.
Thing to Do
The point above is thankfulness. There are many ways to express that, but here is one I want you to consider. If you are new to the faith, find someone who has been in the church awhile and thank them for the encouragement they are to you. If you’ve been working in the vineyard for a while, seek out a newcomer and encourage them. Don’t miss a chance for connection instead of division as we gather together to worship the Owner of the Vineyard.
Excerpted with permission from Living the God-First Life by Stovall Weems, copyright Zondervan.
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Philippians 4:19 says But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Why does this seem like it isn’t enough when we look at those around us instead keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus? Do you tend to get discouraged or jealous when you see others succeed or even receive blessings that seem “unfair”? Today, let’s shift our focus to thankfulness for all the ways God blesses us, none of which do we deserve. Who is new in your community that can you encourage today? Join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily