Everything We Have Comes From God
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“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16 NLT)
Have you ever felt jealous or slighted by what others achieve? Do you seem to work harder than those on your team but never find yourself up for the promotion? Or maybe all your friends are getting married and starting families, yet you’re in a season of singleness doing life without a spouse and a family, all while longing for that next chapter in your life. Maybe your family or friends seem to be getting ahead, landing that job, buying a house, or traveling to exotic places.
Sometimes life seems to be very unfair. It may feel like you’re doing all the “right things” while others are getting ahead, cutting corners, or simply not working as hard as you. This is how the vineyard workers felt in the parable of Matthew 20:1-16.
Jesus tells of a landowner who went out and found some workers to help him in his vineyard. He offered them a job and said he would pay them a specific amount of money. They agreed and went to work. The landowner went out a few more times later in the day and made the same offer for the same pay to other men.
At the end of the day, the landowner tells the foreman to pay the men the wages due them. The men who had worked from the very beginning of the day expected to be paid more than those who had only worked an hour, yet they all received the same pay.
In Matthew 20:13-16, we see how the landowner responds to their protests:
“Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’ So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”
What was Jesus communicating to us through this parable? Everything we do is for God, and everything we do is because God has given us the ability to do it. We cannot do anything apart from God. The mere fact that we are allowed to serve God is a gift from Him. Theologian Charles Spurgeon notes that “the ability to serve God is the gift of God's grace.” God gives us the ability to serve Him because everything we do comes from Him.
Spurgeon goes on to say,
Our reward will not be according to the impression made among men. We may have made our mark upon our age, and neighborhood, and surroundings. Some men's names will go down to posterity; others have no fame at all. It will be found of some men that their lives are written and emblazoned everywhere. Others will live in the little circle of their family, but not beyond that narrow range. But God will not measure so. The godly housewife, with four or five children trained for God in her cottage, may be reckoned of God among the first; and the able speaker, in his pulpit, who has thousands hanging on his lips, may be reckoned of God among the last. God has his own ways of measuring up men's works.
At the end of the day, we can glean from this passage that we need to be thankful for where we are in life and where God has us. God will decide who is first and who is last. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we need to focus our time and efforts on serving God, all while finding joy in the stage of life He has us in!
Father, thank you for giving us breath in our lungs and a new day. Thank you for the new opportunities to serve You each day. Help us not to focus on the achievements and accomplishments of those around us but on what Your Word calls us to do for Your Kingdom. Let the posture of our hearts be focused on Kingdom building and not ourselves. In Jesus' name, amen.
Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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