The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. “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.”
But he answered one of them, “I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
So the last will be first, and the first will be last (Matthew 20:9-16 ɴɪᴠ).
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The kingdom of God is very different from kingdoms on earth. Down here, we look at what others have or have not, and we compare our lives with theirs. What really galls us is the guy who inherited more money than we’ll ever make in a lifetime. He spends his days on the golf course or is off on another exotic vacation. We think of him often when the alarm goes off at six o’clock in the morning and we must get ready for work.
We’re also envious of the woman at work who was just promoted to supervisor when she’s been with the company for less time than we have.
And what of our neighbor who just won the lottery? We’re envious even though we sent what we could have spent on lottery tickets to support that missionary in Peru.
But wait. Aren’t we Christians? Don’t we belong to another kingdom not of this world? In this kingdom, we’re happy to see God’s grace reach the undeserving. Why? Because we finally get it. We finally see that we’re all undeserving and that the economic policy of heaven comes from our heavenly Father’s attribute of generosity. He’s a giver, and we’re so blessed to be recipients of his giving that we want others to benefit too.
To see God as the God of grace is to understand that we all are the workers who showed up at the last hour. And aren’t we glad we serve such a generous master?
Discover more about the character of God in the 52 Weeks with Jesus Devotional.