April 16 Day 107
How Then Shall We Live?
Devotions on Living a Deeper Christian Life
“Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, [that] shall ye receive.” – Matthew 6:7
Disgruntled Workers – Master of the Vineyard Pays His Workers
Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org
The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matt 20: 1-16) tells us about a master of a vineyard needing to increase his workers at harvest time early one morning. The first workers were hired at dawn for a denarius (the ordinary pay for a day’s wages). The Parable tells us others “were standing idle.” Nowhere in the text is it implied that these men were lazy. From this group of unemployed workers, the master hired additional workers at 9 A.M, 12 noon, 3 P.M., and 5 P.M. Each responded immediately to the opportunity.
When the evening came, each worker received one denarius, regardless of his duration of service, starting from the last hired to the first. The Parable records the master telling one of the disgruntled workers, which had labored the longest, that the contract had been fully performed. As to the others, the employer’s obligation was his own affair. The essence of the story asks, are you envious because the master is generous?
This Parable teaches us that our service to Christ in this life will be faithfully rewarded equally, according to the opportunities presented to each person. It is God who adequately assesses faithfulness and opportunities. If you are not working in the vineyard, what difference is that from standing idle? If you are not living the will of God, you are in God’s sight as one standing idle, no matter how much other work you have been doing.
Watchman Nee (1903-1972, Chinese Church leader who spent 20 years in Communist prisons for his faith) commenting on this Parable said, “His will are all sorts of labors: some laborers are digging the ground. Some are sowing seed, and some are making repairs. No matter what work is being done, it will be acceptable if it is done for the good of the vineyard. And hence we need not be so exclusive as to consider only certain works or works done by certain people as being God’s works. No, as long as the days are spent ‘in the vineyard,’ they will be remembered.”
Matthew 20:6 reads. “And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?.”
The idea of “all the day” in verse 6 points to a lifetime. God will call you to work in the vineyard, which may be your job, family, church, the mission field, or someone living next to you. You may be called to plant a seed, water a seed, or harvest the work of others. You may be asked to bring the message of Salvation to someone that God has specifically called this very evening for a purpose that will receive full wages late in the day.
“About the eleventh hour.” In a working day, which did not commonly extend beyond twelve hours (John 11:9), was all but over, and yet there was still work to be done in the vineyard. The eleventh hour was five o’clock in the afternoon, or when there was but one working hour of the day left.
To hire a workman just 1 hour before the close of the working day was a most unusual hour both for offering and engaging in work. The laborers who had been first hired were not enough. They were working on their contract for the day’s wages. Those who were called last of all had the joy of feeling that their day was not lost.
Some commentaries on this parable have pointed out the possibility that those hired into the vineyard in the eleventh hour were old in age and were still given the opportunity to work with one hour left in the day. None are hired at the twelfth hour when life and opportunity are done. While there is life, there is still hope. There is hope for old sinners, true repentance is never too late that they may be brought to repentance.
Whatever your vineyard is, it may be your family, your co-workers, or you may have a larger sphere of influence, God has given this vineyard of opportunity for you to work in. Whatever the call, your job in this life is to faithfully fulfill it, according to His plan. Let us not stand idle then, in the place we are called this day. Let us not tire of doing His work in our particular vineyard of the vast expanse of the Master’s vineyard.
Words to Think About…
<>–THE STATUE SPEAKS—-<>
“He has put us like a statue in its niche. When there is added to this simple staying some feeling that we belong completely to God, and that he is our all, we must indeed give thanks to His goodness. If a statue that had been placed in some niche in some room could speak, and was asked, “Why are you there?”
It would say, “Because my master has put me here.”
“Why don’t you move?”
“Because he wants me to remain immovable.”
“What use are you there; what do you gain by doing so?”
It is not for my profit that I am here; it is to serve and obey the will of my master.”
“But you do not see him.”
“No, but he sees me, and takes pleasure in seeing me where he has put me,”
“Would you not like to have a movement so that you could be nearer to him?”
“Certainly not. Except when he might command me.”
“Don’t you want anything else, then?”
“No, for I am where my master has placed me and his good pleasure is the unique contentment of my being.”
– Francis De Sales