Do you ever read the scriptures, and find when you get done reading the passage you just read that it hits you right between the eyes? That happened to me last night. I've been reading through the book of Matthew, and I came to chapter 20 where Jesus speaks of a man who hires labourers to tend to his vineyard. He hired some first thing in the morning, and more throughout the day. At the end of the day, Jesus says, the man paid everyone according to his (the landowner's) goodness. This is the part of the parable that hit me in the face, because the men that were hired in the morning agreed to work for a denarius (a days wage) and the others agreed to whatever the owner wanted to give them at the end of the day. Which, if you continue to read, we see that the owner gives them ALL a days wage. "So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.' And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. (v8-v10).
Does this sound strange to you? Our post-modern world would never tolerate this kind of goodness. Why? Because the world says, "Not Fair! You mean to tell me, that if I worked eight hours, and another person only worked one hour, he is going to get paid the same as Me?.... Wait a minute, what gives Me the right to tell the owner what he does with his money? What gives Me the right to complain and look sideways at others when I agreed to work for a certain wage? "..... Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. (v1-v2).
This parable is so true to my life. It is easy to look at others and say: "Why Lord?" "What about ME?" "That's not fair Lord!" What we should be saying is "Thank you Lord for your mercy and goodness toward a sinner such as I." Unfortunately, nine times out ten we end up complaining to others as the men in this parable did. "And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' (v11-v12)
Is this YOU? This is me at times, even in my Christian walk. When others seem to receive more or the same as I, I tend to complain, and ask those selfish questions (the ME questions). Instead, I should be thanking Him for His goodness towards others as well because they also have received a blessing from Him. As Job said " Behold, I am vile; What shall I answerYou?...." (Job 40:4). I have no right to complain when others seem to be 'getting ahead'. It's not for me worry about to whom the Lord wills to give. That is why this passage is so terribly convicting. When people say they can read the scriptures and they don't feel convicted or feel the need to change, they need to ask themselves, "Have I truly been regenerated by the power of the Gospel?"
This parable demonstrates to us that there are some who have lived good lives and some who have lived vile lives. Christ came to this earth to die for the whole world, whether you've worked fifteen hours or one hour. His grace is sufficient for all, and His love is infinitely for all. So we need to stop complaining and looking sideways at others. As Jesus said to Peter " ..... If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me." (John 21:22). Jesus is saying you, Michael, look to Me and not sideways at your brother.