Read: Matthew 20:1-16, Luke 12:32
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. 3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ 7 “ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “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.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These 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.’ 13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (NIV Matthew 20:1-16)
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (NIV Luke 12:32)
Study: Jesus showed that God’s generosity goes way beyond “fairness.” People who worked all day watched the landowner pay people who’d only worked one hour the same amount that they had agreed to work for—and they got angry. But the vineyard owner didn’t cheat them. Sadly, he asked the upset workers “Are you resentful because I’m generous?” Does the master’s way of paying the workers in this story feel unfair to you? It was not unfair, of course. No one was underpaid; it was just that some received ‘unreasonable’ generosity. That is what the kingdom of heaven is like. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul said Christ was treated as we deserved, and we are treated as he deserved. In what ways does that “unfair” exchange deepen your gratitude for Christ’s generosity?
Prayer: Loving God, in fall foliage and spring flowers, every morning and every evening, you delight in giving to me. Keep my generosity growing, even though it will never match the magnitude of yours. Amen.