Labouring in the Vineyard
Matthew 20:1-16 NKJV: “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now whenhe had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 7 “They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’ 8 “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 9 “And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 13 “But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 “So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
In this parable, the Landowner, typifying God, gave the same reward to those who worked for only one hour as He gave to those who had worked for 12 hours.
On the surface, this seems unjust. But remember the landowner promised to give them ‘what is right’. So the 12 hours labour of some was equivalent to the 1 hour labour of others.
In other words, you will only be rewarded for what you were asked to do and how well you did it.
This shows God is concerned about quality and precision rather than about quantity.
If you do a lot of ‘good’ things you were not asked to do you will not be rewarded for them.
So God will reward our labour in His vineyard not by the amount of time we work for God but by the quality and specificity of the work. Some work will be like gold, silver and precious stones; others will be like wood, hay and stubble:
1 Corinthians 3:8-15 NIV: The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Work done for God by natural human wisdom, ability and strength alone will be counted as wood, hay and stubble.
Work done for God by the divine wisdom, ability and strength superimposed on natural abilities, obtained from the written Word, through prayer by the power of the Holy Spirit and the pure motivation of the love of God will be counted as gold, silver and precious stones.
Those who use natural abilities alone may start first but will finish last; while those who use divine ability, through the Word and prayer may start last but will finish first.
This is why many that are first shall be last and many that are last shall be first.
Many are called but few are chosen to be first because they made the right choices of purity of motive, discipline in prayer and the Word and so used divine ability rather than just natural ability alone to do God’s work.
Make the decision today to do God’s work by divine love, wisdom, ability and strength through diligence in the Word and prayer, so you will find the yoke easy, the burden light and receive a good reward!