Tag Archives: Labor

How God Treats His Laborers

January 30, 2014

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The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard - 1637 - Rembrandt (1606–1669)

The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard – 1637 – Rembrandt (1606–1669)

Did you ever notice the order the vineyard master paid his laborers? I know you have read it, but did you really notice how he did it? (Matthew 20:8) When we read about the laborers in the vineyard, (Matthew 20:1-16) we see the early arrivers make a firm deal with the master. The people that came later leave it up to the master to pay them what he would.

What did the master have in mind when he paid the latecomers first – right in plain sight of the early arrivers?

The chapter 20 break gets in the way of the flow of the conversation here, but the group is still in a discussion about rewards from chapter 19. The disciples still had a lot to learn about the grace of God and just what it was they were laboring for.

If you felt a little pang of unfairness when you read the text, you are probably not alone. Our earthly lives teach us that we are supposed to get a day’s pay for a day’s work, but Jesus is warning us here that following him requires a new way of thinking. The old way of thinking creates the kind of Christian that…

  • Has been going to church all their life and is somehow more spiritual
  • Has been a member of a congregation since its beginning and has more authority than the new members
  • Gets angry when one clearly qualified becomes an elder or deacon when they haven’t “been around as long”

Jesus shed light on the contrasts of a bitter and petty laborer and one that put his trust in the master. We should use that same light to examine ourselves. Jesus’ goal for his church is that it operate as a smooth unit, one member just as important as the next. We are all trying to get to heaven, and we all need to be available to help others get there too.

What will you do this year to help a newcomer fit in?




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