Parable of the Workers in The Vineyard
Matthew 20: 1-16
Introduction: So how do you like thinking about the Inversion Principle?
If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. That is the Inversion Principle applied to a wicked world.
If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? That is the Inversion Principle applied in the church of God.
The more you think about it there is something very UNFAIR about the Inversion Principle. Here's the heart of today's sermon: Think about this question very carefully:
Why does it seem to me that God is UNFAIR when He gives to other Christians MORE than what I deserve?
If you think the examples I gave you now are bad – wait until we work with today's teaching from Jesus:
A. There is an “Unfair” Length of Service
- Jesus wanted to cover the subject of people coming into the kingdom at various points in their lives. Not everyone becomes a believer at the same age. Some wait until their 50s or 60s. Yet there are others who come to Christ very young: (1) “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. (2) He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
There's evidence that some people come to know the Lord before they are 10 yearsold. Never despise ministry to children. Remember Jesus saying let the little children come to me for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.
- Now as to when do most people become Christians – it looks like the teenage years are the most productive in new believers.
(3) “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 9am is about 3 hours after the others had already started work (4) He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ (5) So they went.
Everyone knew “whatever is right” because the day's wages were a denarius – maybe worth about $100 in today's terms. These people would have been expecting about $75 to $80 for their work.
- Now remember this is a parable and as such it has a main point. You are not expected to read all kinds of minor meanings into the story.
For example these were workers earning a wage – that isn't to say that the longer you're a Christian the more you'll have worked for God and thus the more worthy you'll be of your salvation. Salvation – or eternal life if God's free gift. Don't take this parable to also teach that you can work your way into heaven. Follow the MAIN point of the story now:
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. (6) About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. Where are we now in the day ... it’s about 1 hour before quitting time. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ (7) “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
Here's the main point: Jesus wants you to notice that some people come into the kingdom of God quite late in their lives. So where's the unfairness?
Ooo just think of all those enjoyable sins that the first 2 groups missed out on because they converted young in life!!! No! That's not it at all!
On the other hand though some would believe that the more years they are a Christian should entitle them to a better place in heaven. Only fair? I'm afraid that's not how it works.
- The question still hangs in the balance: Why does it seem to me that God is UNFAIR when He gives to other Christians MORE than what I deserve?
B. There is an “Unrelated” Reward for Lengths of Service
- Let’s go back to the harvest field – it’s now 6pm the work day is over. It’s time to pay the laborers (8) “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.’
OK all you that have worked for one hour come get your pay. How much of the day's pay do you think is fair to give them. Say the rate is $100 per day for reaping the corn. Let's agree on an amount to give the 1 hour per day guys...... discuss......
- Now let's go to Jesus' story and see what happens: (9) “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. Whoa – how about that!! He's paying a day's wages for an hour's work. Is that good news or bad news for the rest of us?
(10) So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. (11) When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. (12) ‘These 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
- Why does it seem to me that God is UNFAIR when He gives to other Christians MORE than what I deserve?
C. There is an “Uncompromising” Attitude about Lengths of Service
- Attitude has more to do with it than we'd care to admit. Take a look at the story again: Did the laborers come looking for the work or did the farmer go looking for them? The latter of course. Didn't God do the searching for you? Don't you know that God loves us all so much that He comes looking for us. Yes but: Why does it seem to me that God is UNFAIR when He gives to other Christians MORE than what I deserve?
(13) “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?
(14) Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.
(15) Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?
Or are you envious because I am generous?’
- Why does it seem to me that God is UNFAIR when He gives to other Christians MORE than what I deserve? It can only be because I am indeed envious when others get generous gifts from God.
Illus: A man had 2 children. One of them seemed to be treated more gently, more considerately than the other. When asked why he replied: It’s because she needs more of that.
Conclusion: By now you get it don't you:
It’s not how long you're a Christian, it’s how well you're a Christian.
How well you understand the heart of your Heavenly Father is often revealed by how much He lavishly blesses those around you.
If you are always measuring God's actions by what you think is fair – you won't last long in the Kingdom of God. Why does it seem to me that God is UNFAIR when He gives to other Christians MORE than what I deserve?
Consider how well you've been doing lately at
Rejoicing with those who rejoice and
Weeping with those who weep.
(16) “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Until you can welcome the Inversion Principle I might have some bad news for you: you best stay a little longer on this earth because you are NOT yet READY for the Kingdom of Heaven in all its after-death fullness.
Love – the God-style of love, isn't always seeing to it that the lover gets a fair deal. Now if you hate that thought – ask yourself if this world is any more fair.
O would you remember how they treated Jesus!
Turn your eyes towards Him and then think about getting what's fair.