The Gracious Landowner

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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"When those hired at five o'clock were paid, each received a full day's wage."

Matthew 20:9

Jesus did not tell the story of the generous landowner to comment on the validity of human pay scales. He was not suggesting that, in real life, those who work little should be paid just as much as those who work less. Rather, Jesus told this parable to illustrate the generosity of God, and to contrast his generosity with the stinginess of people.

In his ministry, Jesus was inviting into the kingdom those who had done nothing to earn such an honor. In fact, many of those who responded to Jesus were notorious sinners who had failed dismally to live according to the Jewish law. This bothered the religious folk who had spent their whole lives trying to obey God. It just didn't seem fair that the Johnny-come-latelies should receive the reward for which the pious had strived for years and years.

In fact, it wasn't fair . . . thanks be to God! If God offered what was fair, we'd all be in big trouble, even those of us who have labored a lifetime working for God. Our efforts would still not add up to an entrance ticket into the kingdom. But God gives us what we do not deserve, whether we first put our faith in Jesus as children, or whether we do trust him in the closing moments of our lives. Is this fair? Not at all. Is it gracious? Yes, indeed.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you received God's grace in your life as you have put your trust in Jesus? Do you live by this grace, or do you live as if you were earning your salvation? Have you ever been resentful of people who have lived a life apart from God, but who have, nevertheless, received God's grace in abundance? What has God given you that you have not deserved?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, I must confess that sometimes I am envious of those who come to know you later in life. I have walked with you for over forty years, and have enjoyed rich blessings from your hand. But then new believers come along with such zeal, such delight in you. I don't resent them, but I do envy them. I yearn to be excited about you!

I do recognize, Lord, that you have "paid" me what I have not earned. You have been generous with me beyond anything I deserve or expect. How I thank you! Help me to live in daily gratitude, thanking you, not only for what I received, but also for what you give freely to others. Amen.