Proper 20 (18–24 September)
Lord God, heavenly Father, since we cannot stand before You relying on anything we have done, help us trust in Your abiding grace and live according to Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Trusting in the Lord’s abiding grace & living according to His goodness - Be not envious of the Lord’s generosity.
Jesus teaches what the kingdom is like. The parable does not deal with labor relations or with hours and wages. It teaches that people in the kingdom do not work for rewards. Regardless of how long we have served, the wage is the same — the privilege of serving God. We are reminded that God can do as He pleases with what is His. His generosity is seen by giving the same pay to those who worked the last time. The last who come to the kingdom receive the same as those who enter first.
Some people are never satisfied. They are not even satisfied with God’s gifts, wages, or rewards. It depends on how you look at it. From the world’s viewpoint, God’s giving the same pay regardless of hours worked is most unjust. From the Christian viewpoint, God’s wages are more generous. Because of who we are and the wrong we have done, we rightfully should get nothing but condemnation. God gives his grace to all regardless how long or how well they worked for him. Those who began to work at the beginning of the day have no reason to complain. They had the joy and the privilege of being in the kingdom and of working for God. Christians do not serve for wages. You cannot pay a person for being or doing good. His only reward is being in God’s kingdom and doing God’s will. What is your reaction to God’s generosity?
1. Grumble — the world’s view of God’s generosity — vv. 8-15 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.'”
"The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So, when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'
"But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'
A. Paying the same wage to those who worked twelve hours, or one hour, is unfair. When the wages are handed out, those who worked one hour received the same pay as those who worked twelve hours. The twelve-hour men protested, complained, and grumbled. And they were justified in doing so! It was a case of rank injustice! It was unfair to those who worked all day.
B. This is the world’s protest, but the kingdom of God is different from the world. God does not use the same methods or measures for reward.
C. God’s pay scale contradicts our notion of rewards. The enemies of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, grumbled about Christ’s gracious offer to sinners. Even Peter thought he and the other disciples should have received more than those who had not left their homes, their families and jobs to follow the Savior.
Yet God deals fairly with us. God is a real equal opportunity employer. Whatever we give up, we receive back a hundred -fold, and finally we receive eternal life. As Jesus says in Matthew 19:29 “ And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”
Transition: There are those who grumble. There are those who are grateful.
2. Then, there are those who are grateful — God’s view of man’s needs — vv. 13-15.
A. God lives up to his promise to pay — v. 13. But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Yet, isn’t it wonderful that even those of us who worked only one hour also receive a denarius? There is a lesson to be learned here. The work itself is already a reward in and of itself! Just to be a Christian is a privilege. It is not a wearisome duty but a happy service, no matter how long God allows us to serve. Thus, we can say that there is no richer, fuller life than that of a disciple of Christ. The wage question in the kingdom of God need not trouble us. In the kingdom, there is no unemployment, and the wage level is uniformly high.
B. God has a right to do what he pleases with his own — v. 15 Don't have the right to do what I want with my own money?. How does God justify the apparent injustice in the payment of wages? God claims He is God, and can do what he pleases with his own. This, too, is different for today’s employer. He cannot pay what he wants or hire those he wants to work for him. Laws limit him. God deals differently from the world.
C. God is generous to all — v. 15. Or are you envious because I am generous?' His grace (payment) is not determined by wages or hours worked. God is so generous that he gives the denarius of grace (salvation) to everyone regardless of length of service or quantity of work performed. God goes beyond justice to give his peace to all who come, whenever they come.
How does God justify the apparent injustice in the payment of wages? God claims he is God, and can do what he pleases with his own. This, too, is different for today’s employer. He cannot pay what he wants or hire those he wants to work for him. Laws limit him. God deals differently from the world.
His grace (payment) is not determined by wages or hours worked. God is so generous that he gives the denarius of grace (salvation) to everyone regardless of length of service or quantity of work performed. God goes beyond justice to give his peace to all who come, whenever they come.
We learn important lessons about God and about grace. None of us deserves the benefits of the kingdom. Others have worked longer and harder than we have. Some have suffered incredible persecution, but the reward of the heavenly banquet is offered to all without regard to our work(s) or the price we have paid to be part of the kingdom.