I think I get the point of Jesus’ story in the first 16 verses of Matthew 20. Those who had received a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s labor really shouldn’t have had any gripe with the master of the house. They had agreed to work the day in the vineyard for a denarius. After working for a day in the vineyard they were paid a denarius. So why the complaining? It was because of the other guys.
And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.”
(Matthew 20:11-12 ESV)
Sure they had been paid what they had earned, but as they saw the guys who had worked only a partial day being paid the same wage they felt it was unfair. And, I’m not gonna lie to you, I get where they are coming from.
I get the tendency to look at what others have received and wonder, “Why not me too?” Or, shall I confess, the temptation at times to allow myself to even think, “Why not me more?” Is it right thinking? Nope. Does such thinking blind me from seeing the master’s compassion because of my self-interest? Pretty much. Is such thinking, when acknowledged and confessed, covered by the blood of the Lamb? Yes, praise God!
But what’s grabbed me this morning is the master’s response to the workers’ complaint. What I’m chewing on this morning is divine permission.
But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. 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 do you begrudge my generosity?”
(Matthew 20:13-15 ESV)
The law of the land in the kingdom of heaven is that the King gets to do what He chooses with what’s His. And, lest we forget, it’s all His. He is the Creator of all things. He is the Sustainer of all things. And to Him belong all things. We receive nothing that does not come from His Almighty hand? And that, only through divine permission?
And this would only be problematic if our King wasn’t a righteous King; if our Father wasn’t a good Father.
But our God is a gracious God. Our God is a generous God. Our God is a faithful God. He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift and in Him “there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
That He would choose to extend common grace to those who reject Him should render wonder. That He would determine to make a way to bring into marvelous light those who want only to walk in darkness should evoke awe. That He would purpose, because He’s allowed to do what He chooses with what belongs to Him, to give His Son in order to redeem a rebellious people should command praise.
God forgive us for clouding your goodness with our self-interest . . . for diminishing in any way your generosity because of our selfish desire.
Let us acknowledge Your grace overflowing. Let us do so for Your glory unending.