All are Precious...and Equal...in His Sight
“When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour, they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day’” (Matthew 20:11, 12).
The parable from which these verses come was told by Jesus on the heels of His explanation to the disciples about the reward awaiting those who followed Him. After having assured His disciples that whatever they gave up for the sake of the Kingdom would be returned with interest, Jesus then proceeded to tell the story of the workers.
Some had begun early in the day, contracted for a particular sum of money to put in a days’ labour. During the course of the day, other workers were hired, some coming in during the last hour of the workday. When they lined up to get their pay, those who had come during the last hour received exactly the same as those who had come in early in the morning. That didn’t sit too well.
It’s easy to throw a pity party, or threaten strike action, or grumble, or get green-eyed with envy or white with anger, when you’ve poured your life into something and then someone who has barely begun gets the pat on the back—too easy.
The lesson for the disciples, and for us, is this: God has given as much salvation to the person who came to faith when he was four years old as He has given to the one who, with his dying breath, pleaded for forgiveness. That’s what we “signed on” for and that’s what we get.
No one is more deserving of eternal life than anyone else no matter how long he or she has had it. Salvation is indeed “the gift of God—not of works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:9).
And to be jealous of what someone else receives when we think we should have received more begs the question: “What is it that you are working for anyway? Are you trying to pay back what you owe for salvation? Are you trying to curry favour with God by doing more and being better than someone else? Do you believe that God chooses favourites and prefers one of His children above another?”
How shortsighted of us to put God in the same league as men. We don’t need to pay Him back (as if we could!), We can’t curry favour with God because He really does treat everyone the same, so we have no reason to be jealous. Like the eldest son in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, we so easily forget that we are always with Him and that everything He has is ours (15:31). We can celebrate with those who “sign on” late or who get the kudos, knowing that God will be more than fair in how He treats all of us.
His justice isn't blind.