Matthew 20: 8-16
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.”
I picked cucumbers one very hot summer when I was a teenager. There were acres and acres of cucumber vines and we were paid one dollar for every large burlap sack full of cucumbers that we picked. Some of us worked very hard and picked several bags full. Others played around and were not as successful. But when we were paid, we were paid as a group for the total number of bags that we picked, not for our individual accomplishments, and the pay was split equally among us. I did not think this was fair and was angry and bitter.
God is generous, and he is generous in ways that don’t always meet with our approval. The reward that we receive for our faith is eternal life. It does not matter that we may not have had faith the first 50, 60 or 70 years of our lives. We receive eternal life as if we had been Christians all of our lives.
It is not by our merit that we are saved. It is not how hard or or how good we work in the field. It is the fact that we are in the field when the day ends. At the end of the day, all who are in the field of faith are given the reward of eternal life.
This is God’s generous love.
May the love of Christ be with you
Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)