Matthew 20:1-19. Verses. 15-16 – Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
When I first read this parable, it rubbed me the wrong way. Strong work ethic was part and parcel of my upbringing. On top of that my family tended to a significantly large vineyard when I was just a youngster. Pruning, tying, weeding and picking grapes were all part of my growing up years. My recall is that you earned every little penny you got for the work being done.
It took me some time to grasp the lesson of this parable. This parable corrects our thinking as we apply it to the working of God, the owner of the world’s vineyard. It’s not the hours worked but the generosity of the vineyard’s owner that determines the pay.
It took me even longer to understand that older Christians or believers of a long duration would have any kind of jealousy toward new believers. The first few times I encountered that attitude it truly took me back.
Lewis Smedes, teacher and author voiced the Lord’s own dismay over long-time Christians who looked down their noses at newcomers to faith: “Long-time Christians often resent it that some people are getting into the kingdom too easy and late.” Now, there should be no prejudice against latecomers to faith, no penalty. Come early or come late, the basis for our coming into the kingdom of God is grace. Grace is offered on the merits of the cross of Christ, and it is certified by Jesus’ resurrection. Coming first or last into the kingdom doesn’t matter. But, of course, not coming at all does.
Lord, give me a heart of acceptance for new believers and for anyone who hasn’t known you as long as I have. Make me a person of celebration at such great news not a person of petty. jealousy. Amen.