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The Parable of the Vineyard Workers

(Matthew 20:1-16)

Lesson 3 -- second quarter 1996
March 17, 1996

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications

Shouldn't God be more fair than this?
Envy the one-hour workers?
What is ungratefulness?

We humans tends to be Champions of Fair Play and Defenders of Equitable Dealings. That is, when we think we deserve more than someone else. However, if we happen to be the someone else, then we likely as not change the lyrics to our tune. Had I been one of the all-day workers in today's lesson, I likely would have been one of these Champions and Defenders. Had I been a one-hour worker, I would have praised the compensation arrangement. So much for balance, objectivity and consistency!

Do I think it fair that a full-day worker get paid as much as a one-hour worker? No. Does it have to be fair? No. Does what I think matter here? No. Is it my business how much someone else gets paid? No. So, do I have anything to fuss about? No. Let's look at the contract.

The full-day workers struck a deal for their remuneration. We must assume that they were satisfied and happy with the arrangement. They set out to work, and worked with a will. They had a bargain to fulfill. Notice that the rest of the workers had no such contract; they merely agreed to trust the boss's justice--he would decide on proper payment. The lord forced no one into either of these contracts; everybody was satisfied. When pay time came, did the boss breach any contract? Not at all! So why did the full-day workers complain? Their focus had changed . . . for the worse. They allowed their self-centered expectations to totally ruin their enjoyment of their reward. The biblical focus can be seen in verses like Romans 12:15 ("Rejoice with them that do rejoice") and 1 Corinthians 12:26 ("And whether . . . one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it").

So, having considered all this, wouldn't you prefer to be a one-hour worker? Not me! I love the Boss too much! He has so much that needs doing and so little time and so few workers to accomplish it all. I wish I could work all day, but I squandered part of it. Now my goal in life is to get as much done for Him as I possibly can.

I pity the one-hour worker! He has but an hour to be about his Father's business. I've been blessed with considerably more time than that. If I were to envy him, I would be revealing an upside-down perspective on serving God. I would be motivated by the reward, rather than by my love for Him.

Ungratefulness--one of the signs of the perilous times in which we live. Ungratefulness--presuming to get by with as little as possible. Ungratefulness--assuming I deserve more than I have received. Ungratefulness--believing I deserve all the good I have. Ungratefulness--defying God's sovereign choices. Can you not see the ungratefulness in today's lesson?

The full-day workers weren't grateful for the privilege of working all day for the lord. Neither were they thankful that they were justly compensated for their efforts. How has your gratefulness been this week? Let's be so busy serving we don't have an interest in whining!

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