In most cultures, fairness is a high value. Jesus pushed against this in the parable of the vineyard workers (Matthew 20:1-16) to explain Kingdom culture*. A landowner started out early in the morning, maybe 6am, to hire workers at the daily rate. He engaged more workers throughout the day—9am, 12pm, 3pm and 5pm. He promised all a fair wage.
At the end of the day, he instructed his manager to pay the workers, starting with those that had been hired last. Every worker was given the daily rate. This is a parable to dispel the idea of works-based salvation and was given in response to Peter’s question, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” “Works” doesn’t cut it to get in Heaven’s door. In the Kingdom economy, grace is not measured by works. We are all justified freely by Jesus.
(Romans 3:23-24).“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus …”
The workers that had started work earlier began to grumble. It’s not fair. They expected more. From
(Ephesians 2:8-9)“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
we know it is grace alone through faith that allows us to spend eternity with Him. We are stunned by the great and free salvation He provides to all for the asking.
Then why put forth energy to make a difference for God? From the parable of the talents
(Matthew 25:23)“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”
we learn “to whom much is given, much is required.” From
(1 Corinthians 3)“If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, … If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss…”
, we know that while salvation is given freely, there are rewards for allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us for His good pleasure
(Phil 2:13)“for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
The Lord is fully aware of our service to Him by faith. It is by faith we fellowship, pray, and serve.
(Matthew 6:6)“”…your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.”
He is paying attention. Suggestion: explore options that are surprisingly well-suited to you at missionnext.org
. It’s freely offered! Your reward? You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore
. Ps 16:11
* Parable of the Vineyard Workers – Matthew 20:1-16 (NLT)
“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay the normal daily wage[a] and sent them out to work.
3 “At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. 4 So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. 5 So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.
6 “At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’
7 “They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’
“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’
8 “That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. 9 When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. 10 When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. 11 When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, 12 ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’
13 “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? 14 Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. 15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’
16 “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”