Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Parable of the Laborers

After I gave a message on this parable at Living Truth Christian Fellowship, a few people suggested I turn it into a blog posting on Coaches Corner. This is one of a few important lessons learned in this parable. I hope you are blessed by it. You might want to have your Bible open to follow along:

We begin in Matt 20:1, "For the kingdom of heaven is like(whenever you see this phrase, you know that Jesus is teaching us how it works in God's economy as opposed to the system of this
world) a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard." Keep in mind as we follow the story that the word used for landowner really denotes a person who has complete authority. Notice that the first group he hires has signed on for an agreed upon salary. A denarius is similar to what a penny is for us, or at least used to be. It represented a normal
wage at this time. "About the third hour (9am) he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right." Notice the difference here. The beginning of verse 5 says they went, but they went without any idea of what they would get paid! Apparently they trusted the master to be fair with them.

Matt 20:5-7 "He went out again about the sixth hour (noon) and the ninth hour (3pm) and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour (5pm, one hour until end of day) he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' "Because no one has hired us,' they answered."He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard." This whole scenario kind of reminds me of when I go to Lowe's on a Saturday morning and on the way, the day laborers are waiting for someone to give them work. It is worth noting that the last three groups had three things in common. One, they were basically doing nothing. Two, they agreed to work, not knowing what they would get paid. Three, it was the master's desire to give them purpose. Let's read the rest of the story.

Matt 20:8-16 "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. The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour 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 men 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, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man 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."

Now, let's be honest. How many of us would feel like the men who were hired first and worked all day. All of a sudden, what we thought was a fair wage seems unfair because those who worked less got the same amount. There are some applications to be made here. Example: Have you ever noticed how today's professional athlete signs a giant contract worth millions of dollars, but as soon as a teammate signs for more, he becomes unhappy and wants a renegotiation of his contract? That's exactly what happened to these workers. He uses this parable then to teach an important and practical lesson. Look at the contrast between those who were contracted to work for a set fee and those who just trusted the master. Who had more joy in the outcome? Who received the greater blessing? The Lord is showing us that we are not to worry about what He is doing for others or comparing our lives with others

Living life in this worldly way will never lead to a joy or contentment .Comparing what we might get with what someone else gets, always leads to unhappiness. If you look back in Chapter 19, you will see how the disciples were talking about all that they left behind to follow Jesus? They were implying that it might not be fair. That maybe all they lost would not be worth it. They even asked what would be in it for them in the end. It is interesting that Jesus did not rebuke them for their selfish thought, but actually gave them some indication of their eternal reward. Look back at verse 28 of Chapter 19. "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. He goes on to say on verse 29,"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."

Jesus taught Peter this same lesson in John Chapter 21. He starts out by asking Peter three times "Do you love me?" Let's pick up the story in verse 18, "I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." Jesus is making the same point as in the parable Don't concern yourself with what I have in mind for others but do what I have called you
to do!

We can be content only in doing what we are called to do! That is what brings us great joy and fulfillment in this life. We know that we serve a master, who by His very nature is completely fair and just. We can be certain that however he rewards us, as it says in Ephesians 3:20, it will be more than we could ever ask or imagine. We should be like the workers who trusted that the Master to be fair. He loves us and has plans for us that are good, not evil l (Jer 29:1). Let's make it our goal to learn what God has called us individually to do and then be content doing it!

God bless, Coach










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