We couldn't find what you are looking for. Try searching for something else.
I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. - Matthew 20:13-14 (NIV)
My first job was at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Yes, the store in the mall where you can stuff, bathe, and dress a teddy bear. It was fantastic. My job title was literally “bear-builder.” I think I should keep that on my resume forever. As employees, we tried to encourage one another, and one of the ways we did that was by writing encouraging notes to each other called “Atta-bears.” We would slip these encouraging notes in each other's lockers when we saw our co-workers working extra hard or having a “pawsitive” attitude. It feels good when you feel seen, doesn’t it? I think it probably brightens everyone’s spirits to have an ‘atta-boy’ recognition every once in a while.
Do you ever find yourself working towards that praise or recognition? Maybe you want to go above and beyond on a project to get that “job well done” from your boss. Or maybe you’re really striving for a promotion or incentive. Maybe you just need someone to tell you that you’re a good mom or dad. Whose praise are you working for? Is God’s enough?
In the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, the workers were initially satisfied with the wages that were agreed upon. It wasn’t until they compared and measured themselves against others that they became frustrated. Suddenly, things didn’t seem so fair anymore. Where was their bonus for staying all day? Where was the round of applause for the workers who were there the longest?
If you are looking for praise or rewards from other people, you won’t ever be satisfied. It won’t ever be enough. Instead, work as if you’re working for the Lord instead of constantly trying to please people. At the end of the day, all we really need is the affirmation from our Father saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” because that is always enough.
So the last will be first, and the first will be last. - Matthew 20:16 (NIV)
When I was in elementary school, my family and I went to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game. Our seats were in the nosebleed section. I think I even brought binoculars. A couple innings into the game, they announced over the loudspeakers that they were choosing a lucky family to move from their seats to the very front row. The next thing I knew, my family was on the jumbotron, and we were being escorted to the very front row. I was ecstatic!
Looking back now, I wonder how the other front-row-joes felt in that moment. Were they mad that we paid $10 for our tickets and they paid $100? That’s not really fair, is it? It’s fun to get an unexpected promotion, and it’s exciting to cheer your underdogs on to victory. However, from the other side, it can be frustrating. You might think, “I’ve been here longer,” “I deserved that,” or “I’ve worked harder.”
Jesus says in Matthew 20:16 (NIV), “The last will be first, and the first will be last.” The Kingdom of Heaven doesn’t compare who has been attending church the longest, who knows their Bible the best, or who serves the most hours. On those terms, the Pharisees would be the first into Heaven. Instead, the Lord looks at our hearts.
1Samuel 16:7 (NIV) says, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.“
God chooses His kickball team a little differently. The people you might choose last, He chooses first. He picked the youngest, smallest shepherd boy, David, to be king. He chose Moses, who was slow of speech and tongue, to lead His people. His disciples were fishermen and tax collectors.
If you feel unworthy to be in God’s kingdom, you’re on the right track. If you feel like you’ve made it by your own works, check your pride. James 4:6 says God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.
Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? - Matthew 20:15 (NIV)
When I was a little girl, my family lovingly referred to me as “the sharing girl.” I was really good at sharing and delighted in how it made others feel. Now, my family likes to throw this term at me sarcastically when I won’t share my desserts. Some things are harder to share than others. For me, chocolate brownies a la mode are really hard to share.
In the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, the laborers who worked all day were envious because the workers who arrived last and worked the least were paid the same. They began to grumble, and the master of the house responded, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:15, NIV)
Is it not the same with the way that God rewards His people? He is faithful to reward us for our service as He has promised, and how He rewards others should be of no consequence to us.
1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV) says, “Love does not envy.”
Envy is discontentment that comes from wanting what others have. If we are envious of our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we do not love them. We must be able to celebrate our brothers and sisters in Christ and their accomplishments.
Do you know what the opposite of envy is? Surprisingly, generosity. When we are content, sitting at the feet of Jesus, it’s easier to loosen our grip on the worldly stuff around us. As we live generously, we begin to understand God’s heart for others. Then we can let go of envy.
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. - Matthew 20:12 (ESV)
If you have siblings, you can probably think of ways that your parents tried to keep things equal between your brothers and sisters. Or if you are a parent, you probably find yourself trying to balance your time, affection, and gifts evenly between your children. I’m sure you’re not perfect at it, and there are likely times when one sibling may get a little bit more than another.
Our Father in Heaven loves us all equally because we are His children, and He is a good and perfect Father. We know the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
In the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1–16), the owner of the vineyard gave all the workers equal pay. The ones who had worked 8 hours in the sun walked away with the same amount of money as the workers who only worked an hour. The landowner who paid the workers equal amounts was showing mercy, not injustice. The landowner represents God, who wants everyone to have an equal seat at his table.
This has been a roller coaster of a year. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and our focus on racial injustice has heightened in these last few weeks following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. I know the Lord is doing a big work in our hearts as many of us have committed to lamenting, learning, and listening.
At the last meal that Jesus shared with His disciples before He went to the cross, He prayed something specific for all believers. Of all the things He could choose to pray for us, He prayed for our unity. “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22–23, NIV) This is a season where we must keep our eyes on Jesus and fight for unity as we look to restore dignity where it has been lost.
For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. - Matthew 20:1 (NIV)
Have you ever taken part in the madness of Black Friday shopping? I have to admit, there’s a weird thrill to the early-rising, line-waiting, deal-finding adventure of Black Friday. When you’re out participating in the madness and run into a friend, it’s just a given that you’re going to stop and share the best deals that you’ve found so far that day. We get so excited about the bargains we find that we love to share with our friends where we went and what we found.
In the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1–16) the owner of the vineyard went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. We see him continuing to search for and hire workers throughout the day at 9am, Noon, 3pm, and 5pm. When he finds people still waiting around looking for work at 5pm, he asks them, “Why do you stand here idle all day?” And they respond, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You must go and work in my vineyard.” (Matthew 20:6–7, NIV)
Jesus doesn’t tell us the exact meaning behind this parable, but He does tell us that the parable represents the Kingdom of Heaven. I love how the vineyard owner continues to look all day for more and more workers for his vineyard. I think this is a compelling picture of how we should be constantly inviting people into the Kingdom of God here on Earth. We must continue to go out and search for others who have not been invited into God’s kingdom. This is God’s ultimate desire. There are people “standing around idly” who need to be welcomed in. We should be so excited to share with others what we have found in Jesus that we can’t help to share where we got it and what we found.