Friday, 16 April, 2021
Title: How much is a day’s wages worth to you?
Material adapted by Pastor Cheong Cheng Cheung from a chapter of a book entitled “The Parables” by Gary Inrig. (Discovery House, 1991)
Matthew 20: 16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Most of us would be familiar with the parable of the vineyard workers. This story is not about labor-management relations, the equitableness of one’s wages, or even about rewards. It is simply about the attitude of my heart and your heart if we claim we are the Lord Jesus’ servants.
But what had prompted this parable? Read the dialogue between the disciples and Jesus at the end of Matthew 19 where Jesus said ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ That sent up red flags and set the disciples’ pulses racing. All were astonished, till someone finally asked, ’Who then can be saved?’ Finally, Peter chipped in:
“We have left everything to follow You! What then will there be for us? ”
Behind “What’s in it for me?” there lurks a commercial spirit that misses the essence of Christian service. It is this attitude that the Lord addresses in the parable.
The parable goes like this. At 6:00 AM, a vineyard owner hired some day-labourers, agreed a fair wage and the workers started to work. At 9:00 AM, and then at 12:00 noon, again at 3:00 PM and finally at 5:00 PM the process was repeated. Workers were added and it was agreed they would all be paid at day’s end.
When the day was done, the workers were paid beginning with the one-hour workers. And they were astonished to discover they received a full day’s wage, a denarius. Obviously, they had not earned a day’s wage, because they had not worked a full day. But a family could not live on less than a denarius a day, so, out of generosity, the owner had paid them not what they deserved, but what they needed.
The news spread. The twelve-hour workers thought ”If they got one denarius for working one hour, we should get twelve!” Imagine their chagrin to discover their pay envelopes also contained one denarius! “It’s not fair! They only worked one hour and we, twelve full hours. How is it that we are not getting more?”
This was the vineyard owner’s response in verses 14 & 15.
‘I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or d͟o͟ y͟o͟u͟ b͟e͟g͟r͟u͟d͟g͟e͟ my generosity ?’_ (ESV)
’I want to give this last man the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my business? A͟r͟e͟ y͟o͟u͟ j͟e͟a͟l͟o͟u͟s͟ because I’m generous ?’ (CSB)
Ouch! Those questions hurt. And they hurt because they have hit home. The twelve-hour workers received exactly what they worked for. Their pay was absolutely fair. But the vineyard owner decided to pay the one-hour workers out of his generosity, not on the basis of fairness. In other words, it was never meant to be fair. And we have to admit the questions shamed us because we are wired like that. Like what? You might ask.
1) We have a c͟o͟m͟m͟e͟r͟c͟i͟a͟l͟ spirit within. We believe “pay equals work done.” But kingdom economics is very different. As God’s children, our service does not put us in His debt. Serve faithfully without calculating, minute by minute, how much you have done. If we leave the reward to Him, we will be overwhelmed by His generosity.
2) We also have a c͟o͟m͟p͟e͟t͟i͟t͟i͟v͟e͟ spirit. In the parable, those who worked most compared themselves to the ones who worked the least and ”they expected to receive more.” When their eyes focused on what others had received, they were unable to accept their own wages with joy. But when you focus on His grace, that all that He bestows, whether little or much, is totally undeserved, joy will fill your heart.
3) We often have a c͟o͟m͟p͟l͟a͟i͟n͟i͟n͟g͟, discontented spirit. ”Complain, grumble, protest” is our common lot Such an attitude is a sign of rebelliousness and an attack on the goodness and generosity of God Himself. Furthermore, it reveals the corruption of our hearts. ”Do you begrudge my generosity?” Who are we to complain about the ways of the eternally holy, just and righteous God?
Moreover, Jesus said before the parable:
Matt 19:30 ”But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
and ended it similarly: Matt 20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” thereby framing the parable in its proper context.
P͟e͟t͟e͟r͟ h͟a͟d͟ g͟o͟t͟ i͟t͟ a͟l͟l͟ w͟r͟o͟n͟g͟. His mistake was that he had counted the cost, no doubt, left his fishing nets behind and computed what might be his reward, but did not factor in the privilege of serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
What might be uppermost in your heart when you serve our great and gracious God?
Forgive me, Lord Jesus for serving with the wrong motives. Search my heart and remove all conceit from my being. Forgive my discontentment and murmuring spirit.
Thank you for your grace and generosity towards me.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
本篇灵修是由张祯祥传道从盖瑞恩（Gary Inrig)1991 年的《明白耶稣的比喻》其中一章所改编的。
消息传开了。做了十二小时的工人想： “如果他们工作一小时就得到一银币，我们就得得到十二银币！” 想象一下，当他们发现自己的工资信封里只有一银币时，他们有多懊恼吧！“这不公平！他们只工作一小时，而我们工作了整整十二小时。为什么我们没有得到更多？”
1)我们有图谋利益的心态。我们相信“薪酬等同于所完成的工作” 。 但天国的经济学却截然不同。作为上帝的孩子，我们的服侍不会让我们欠他的债。不分分秒秒地计算你做了多少，就是忠诚地服侍。如果我们把奖赏留给上帝管理，那他丰盛的恩典将充充足足地赏赐给我们。
此外，耶稣在比喻前说：“然而，有许多在前的将要在后，在后的将要在前。”（ 太 19:30 ）