Yesterday went to teach a Bible study at an assisted living center in our town. I'll confess that I didn't create a new lesson for this event, but went into my archives to find something that stuck out. After pouring through my old files I decided, for no particular reason, on Matthew 20:1-16. This sections records a parable about a vineyard worker who hired day laborers to work his harvest. The first group of workers were hired at 9am, the second group at noon, and the third group at 3pm. Surprisingly the owner makes another trip to town around 5pm and hired even more men to work his harvest. As the Levitical law required he settled with each worker at the end of the day. To the surprise and dismay of his employees he paid them all the same. Their cry echoed a familiar sentiment in our society, "not fair." The people who'd worked all day received the same payment as those who'd worked just a few hours. If this had happened today union reps would have been called, lawyers would have been on the scene, and management would be issuing statements to the local newspaper. Scandal! Mistreatment! Unfair! What did the manager say? "I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?"
Of course we know that this parable is about those who come into the Kingdom by the skin of their teeth. The ones who enter heaven with singed hair and smoking clothes (1 Cor 3:15). Interestingly, I received a call on the way to that Bible study that a friend's non-Christian dad was passing away at the hospital. I went over to see this man and asked him plainly do you believe that Jesus is the son of God? Yes. Do you believe that he died to pay for your sins? Yes. Do you trust that when you die you'll meet Jesus in heaven? Yes. What are we to think about someone who lives 80 years in the world and 1 day in the kingdom? Should we be jealous because God is generous? Should we argue with God about who He lets into His kingdom? Or, should we say, "I saved from my wretched sins and thankful for any other that God might save." None of us deserve it. None of us have worked long enough or hard enough to deserve his favor. We get in simply because our Father is generous. So let us be grateful, not envious, when God let's anyone into his kingdom. And if ever feel discouraged by who God lets into his kingdom, remember, someone may have complained to God when he let you in!
Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Numbers 21-22