Pentecost 21 – Friday Devotion

Readings:  Deuteronomy 31:30-32:27 and Matthew 20:1-16

Matthew 20:14-16  But [the master of the house] 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?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

 

“Equal in the Kingdom of God”

How many of us begrudge generosity? Our answer might depend on whether we are the recipient of that generosity or not. If we receive more than we expect or deserve it’s not likely that we’ll grumble. If we get less than what we expect or feel we deserve we probably will grumble about it. But, no matter what, don’t we have more than we had previously?

Imagine that you’ve been hired for a day-long job. You begin at the very beginning of the day and are in the field harvesting all day long.  A few hours later another group joins you. This happens all day long. Finally, with only about an hour to go another group comes. Then the day is over. You are ready to go home; ready to see the family, get some food and relax your sore muscles.

Pay-call takes place. The boss begins with the last ones hired. They receive a full day’s wage. Good, you think. I’ll get a bonus for working all day long. The pay out continues and everyone receives equal pay, including you! “Not fair!,” you say. But is it? Didn’t you agree on your wages before hand? The boss pays you the amount agreed upon. No more. No less.

This parable, told by Jesus, teaches us a point. All believers are equal in the Kingdom of God. It’s about envy and about grace. When we focus on justice, on equal rights, of demanding of God, we focus on ourselves and not on God.

These words challenge our faith. Do we begrudgingly go about the work of the Church? Do we labor long and hard, but for self gain? Because of the work we do or have done do we feel that God owes us favor? Then we might be the laborer in the field who felt he deserved more.  God has called these but they may be outside of the elect of God for all eternity.

Do we humbly go about serving the Lord? Is there joy in our service? Is the burden light, no matter the length of labor? Do others see the joy we have? Does the overflowing joy draw others to work in the harvest field? These are the ones God has called and elected to serve Him in this world as well as in eternity in heaven.

Do you receive God’s grace joyfully or begrudgingly (maybe even rejecting it)? Is the focus on you or on God? Do you turn to your fellow-kingdom worker and receive them with great rejoicing? The load is lightened as we labor together. 

Jesus reminds us: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30) 

Imagine being in that field. Jesus comes and begins filling your basket. It is full. It is overflowing. There is more in your basket than you will ever be able to carry, let alone lift. And then, He adds a second basket equally filled! And, just as you begin to say something, He lifts up the yoke and carries the burden for you. 

That is exactly what He did. For you. He was nailed upon the cross. For you. He filled your cup with His blood poured out for Your forgiveness. Then He rose from the dead, the firstfruit of the resurrection. For you. When He comes again, He will gather His faithful. And truly He will come again. For you.  The pay He offers, full of grace, is for you!

 

PRAYER:  Gracious Father, You open the bounty of Your hand and satisfy the needs of Your people. Even more-so, You have opened Your hand of grace to welcome me into Your heavenly Kingdom, for which I give You all thanks and praise, now and forever. Amen.