This Sounds Familiar (Matthew 20:1-16)

Whenever I hire a new employee, I provide a stipend for each to purchase their own health care insurance. Regardless of whether the employee is full-time or part-time, I provide the same stipend. The part-time employee is delighted, whereas some full-time employees have expressed some disillusionment over why a part-time employee is eligible for the same benefits as they are. Instead of being content with the privilege they were promised and possess, they resent the fact that others do not necessarily have to work as hard to obtain it. I explain to them that all employees have an important role in this company and the benefits they receive are equivalent to one another. Although acknowledging what I have stated, I sense there is still some lingering resentment over my actions. 

 

“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.”

Matthew 20:1-16 (ESV)

 

It is difficult to truncate this parable of Jesus Christ and not diminish the startling significance of what He is teaching. The laborers were each promised the same wage but the workers who worked the longest were indignant that they were paid the same as the other workers who only worked a few hours, in spite of what was the original agreement. 

 

This sounds familiar.

 

Do I exhibit this same resentment when God blesses another person but not me, even though we are both doing the same task? Do I feel resentment when a mass murderer repents of his sins in the last moments before his execution and his soul is saved? What about the lifetime of cruelty and pain he brought to so many others, is this fair? When I have these feelings, I begrudge the generosity of God. I am judging and measuring my blessings with what others receive. 

 

These stories sound familiar because I see myself in each of these situations. Instead of resentment, I should be grateful that God has extended His grace and mercy to me, someone who never deserved forgiveness based upon my own merit. It is only through faith and belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that I have been saved from eternal separation from God.

 

Amen!

 

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

 

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