Proceeding the episode with the rich young ruler, Jesus shares a parable about the kingdom of heaven and how it is like a master who hires out laborers for his vineyard. In this parable, Jesus takes his listeners on a journey in the day of a master hiring day laborers. From morning to afternoon, the master is continuously hiring laborers to work his vineyard. At the end of the day, the foreman pays the laborers their wages—according to their agreement. However, the laborers who had been working all day were disgruntled that the laborers, who only worked a half-day and less, were paid the same amount.
The master in response to the disgruntled employees states, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong, Did you not agree with me for a denarious. Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matt 20: 13-16).
Obviously, the master was quite generous giving the same pay to the last laborer as the first. The first laborers, who were man-centered rather than master-centered, focused on the unfairness of the wage given to the last laborers. Rather than celebrating the fact they had a job, and worked for a gracious and generous master, they instead focused on how the master [and life] had (supposedly) treated them unfair. These disgruntled laborers represent the mentality of many believers today, including myself (many times). We look at God’s generosity and graciousness towards others and wonder why his generosity and graciousness has not come our way, in the manner we thought it should. Maybe we wanted that job, ministry, house, car, or healthy child. Maybe we wanted that spouse, mentor, friend, lifestyle, or break. This reminds me of my eldest son, Caleb, who counts how many Christmas gifts he received verses how many his sister, Ellie, received. (Full disclosure- I did that too growing up.) Thus, in the above examples, the focus is on what is not received—rather than on what is received.
Jesus simply desires to teach that in his kingdom he is the master and can do what he wills, and that in his kingdom there are no favorites, but his generosity and grace extends to all—from the first employee to the last—no matter if it is manifested differently from one employee to the next. Let us be grateful for the fact that we all are laborers of/for the king, and all have been shown generosity and grace from the king. Today, rather than focusing on what others have and what you do not, choose to focus on the fact that King Jesus loves me, choose me, and has shown me grace and generosity. Think of tangible ways Christ has shown you grace and generosity