Jesus told a story of a landowner hiring people to work in his vineyard even though there was only an hour left in the work day.
I call these late hires 5 o’clock people.
He began the story with the words ‘the kingdom of heaven is like’… therefore the purpose of the story is to illustrate something of the way God manages His operations.
The story however has a very strange ending.
“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard spoke to the person who was in charge of the workers. He said, ‘Call the workers and give them their pay. Begin with the last ones I hired. Then go on to the first ones.’
“The workers who were hired about five o’clock came. Each received the usual day’s pay.
So when those who were hired first came, they expected to receive more. But each of them also received the usual day’s pay.
When they received it, they began to complain about the owner. ‘These people who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said. ‘You have paid them the same as us. We have done most of the work and have been in the hot sun all day.’
“The owner answered one of them. ‘Friend,’ he said, ‘I’m being fair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for the usual day’s pay? Take your money and go.
I want to give the one I hired last the same pay I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Do you feel cheated because I gave so freely to the others?’
(Matthew 20:8-15 NIRV)
And there you have it… entitlement and expectations.
What am I entitled to in this life, what should I expect?
Some would answer, healthcare for all.. free post secondary education.. a good paying job.. a decent place to live.. subsidized childcare for working parents.. politicians that keep their promises.. to be treated fairly.. or a host of other social issues relating to racial or lifestyle / gender choices.
From a human governance point of view these are all legitimate considerations. And good human governance needs to recognize their responsibility to “all” of their people and not just those with similar ideology or ethnicity.
But when it comes to governance in God’s kingdom we find a very different value system.
This story from Jesus highlights four of them.
1. Grace: God gives, even when it is not earned or deserved.
When Jesus prepped the 12 disciples and sent them out to declare God’s kingdom to the Jews, His instruction included the words…
You have received freely, so give freely. (Matthew 10:8 NIRV)(Matthew 10:8 NIRV)
That’s also why Paul wrote the following words to the Christians in Ephesus (and indirectly to us)..
God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it.(Ephesians 2:8-9 NIRV)
2. Generosity: God is generous.
God did not spare his own Son. He gave him up for us all. Then won’t he also freely give us everything else?(Romans 8:32 NIRV)
Apostle James talked about God’s generosity… he said…
If any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He will give it to you. God gives freely to everyone and doesn’t find fault.(James 1:5 NIRV)
The Prophet Isaiah provides a delightful picture of God’s generosity by extending the following invitation… God says…
“Come, all you who are thirsty. Come and drink the water I offer to you. You who do not have any money, come. Buy and eat the grain I give you.
Come and buy wine and milk. You will not have to pay anything for it.
Why spend money on what is not food? Why work for what does not satisfy you? Listen carefully to me. Then you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the richest food there is.
Listen and come to me. Pay attention to me. Then you will live.(Isaiah 55:1-3 NIRV)
3. God’s kingdom is governed (among other things) by His grace, and His generosity.
Our human expectations and sense of entitlement are not the basis for the manner in which God governs His kingdom. His decisions are not influenced by human expectations or sense of entitlement.
4. (To be continued…)
Bless Me Please God.