Matthew 20:1-16 (click for full reading)
“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 onto the first.”
(click on the title above to listen to the sermon)
When the landowner in today’s Gospel told the workers he was sending to his vineyard that they would be paid at the end of the day, he told them he’d pay them “What is right.” He didn’t say he’d pay them what they deserve, but what is right. So, what is “right”? Turns out, in the case of today’s Gospel, what is “right” can seem really unfair. Because the guys who worked in the vineyard all day got paid the same amount as the guys who worked for an hour. AN HOUR. And those guys who got paid for the whole day really felt like they should have been paid more. Man, we can relate. I really don’t like it when someone works less hard than me but gets the same amount as I do. Who does?
But, the landowner reminds those working for him that it is HIS money, and he can do with it what he wants. And he chose to give the same amount to everyone!
So it is with God’s grace. God’s love and forgiveness aren’t ours. Oh but we’d like them to be. We like to make judgments about who is worthy or unworthy.
But God gets to do with grace what God wants to do with it.
And God has chosen to give it to everyone. And when we take the time to think about it, really think about what that means, it’s uncomfortable. It’s offensive. And it makes us mad.
Because we like to think of ourselves as the ones who were here the whole time. And God gives grace to us and those who just showed up. God gives grace to people who deserve it and even to those who don’t.
And that, while unfair, is amazing. It should cause us to rejoice.
Because we have received it too. Don’t focus on the grace someone else is getting. When you do, you miss the point!
Look at the grace God is giving YOU. God hands you the gift of grace TODAY.
Go out. Change the world.
Questions to Ponder/Discuss
1. Who do you relate to more in this parable? The workers who were there all day or the ones who just worked for the last hour? Why?
2. How do you think the workers who got paid for the whole day after working one hour felt when they were handed their wages? Why?
3. When’s the last time you felt like that when you thought about the grace God has given YOU?
We are given grace FOR something. Not because we did something to earn it, but because God loves us.
Now what? Now we can go out and DO something with that love and forgiveness we’ve been handed.
This week, keep the image of those workers who got paid a day’s wage for one hour in your head. How can you go out with joy to serve others this week?