Laborers in the Vineyard
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he *said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ 7 They *said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He *said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard *said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ 9 When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. 10 When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last.”
You’ve been out on the field most of the game. You’re considered a star player. You’ve been giving it your all. The score is tied despite all your effort. There’s only a few minutes left in the game and the coach replaces you, the star player, with someone who’s only played a couple of games. And, you guessed it, he scores the winning goal. He only played a few minutes, but he’s the one being celebrated. Jesus wants us to understand that no one has a “special place” — you can’t earn it, you can’t buy it, you can’t make deals for it. The Gospel is for everyone — equally.
While that means there are no “stars”, it also means that there are no passive spectators. Whether you’ve served God for 5 hours, 5 years or 5 decades…you’re a child of God participating in His Kingdom work.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be humble, to work whole-heartedly for You, and to play whatever position I am given.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)