by Sal Huckel
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‘Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last (Matthew 20:15,16).
Read Matthew 20:1–16
Sometimes, I wonder whether we live in a culture that has redefined entitlement. Upon reading this parable, though, I note that Jesus tells a story that presses all the right buttons and shows that he understood humans were dealing with the same issues while he was walking on this earth.
There’s the entitlement of those standing around waiting to be given work. There’s the entitlement of those who later find that workers have done less than them but are paid the same. A figure they agreed to as a fair wage from the outset. The order in which they were paid. Ouch!
While we can find many ways to look at this parable (let the Holy Spirit show you the angle for you today), we must focus on the core message: The last will be first, and the first will be last. We find Jesus turning our expectations upside down so many times in Scripture. Here, the general cry is, ‘It’s not fair’.
We don’t get to make the rules; God does. Grace and salvation are available to all of us, whatever time we arrive – and however slack we may have been for ‘part of the day’ if we are some of those standing around waiting to be told what to do. On that point, also take away from this parable: The vineyard is the kingdom of God, and there is work to be done. Don’t expect the ‘few’ who started early to do it all. Roll up your sleeves, be thankful to be included in this heavenly workforce, and your reward has already been named. If you feel you arrived a little late, don’t worry! He wants you here; you have been chosen and are just as precious.
Father God, thank you for calling me to work in your vineyard! Help me to continue with the work you have for me, be faithful to you, and remember to put others before myself, wanting the best for them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Sal is married to Pastor Matthew Huckel, and they live in Victoria with their six children. Music, theology, literature and languages are passions the family share and explore together. Sal loves writing, speaking, and walking to the beach at every opportunity.