Gift of Grace

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"For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work. At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing. At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’ They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’ The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’ That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’ He answered one of them, ‘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.”." Matthew 20:1-16

In our eyes, the law-abiding citizen "deserves" forgiveness. But what about the murderer?

The faithful husband "deserves" a home in heaven. But what about the adulterer?

A person who leaves the comforts of home and serves in a foreign land "deserves" salvation. But what about a person who rejected God all their life and then trusted in Jesus on their deathbed?

Is God's grace fair?

Today's passage is the story Jesus told about a man who hired workers for his vineyard. The first ones hired went out early in the morning to start the job. About 9am, he hired some others to join them. He hired additional workers at noon, some more at 3pm and then a final group at 5pm--an hour before quitting time.

When the workers lined up for their pay, everyone was given the same amount of money. Those who had started early in the morning were none too pleased to learn that those who had worked less received the same amount. But the landowner said, "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?”

The point of Jesus' story is not about a vineyard owner, his vineyard, hired workers, and fair wages. Jesus told the story to teach us about His grace. Those of us who have been believers for some time can start to feel like we “deserve” what God gives us. We have been at it hard and long to be good and faithful, so how dare He show grace to "sinners"? That's when He sternly reminds us that grace is a free gift and can never be earned by us. The model citizen and the murderer, the faithful spouse and the adulterous one, the missionary who gave their life in service or the person who turns to Christ with their last breath--grace is available for all, because Jesus died upon the cross to redeem humanity.

Thank God that grace is never fair. Thank God that grace is extended to all, for we would never be able to be righteous enough to “earn” it!

Prayer: 
Most Merciful and Loving God, thank You for Your free gift of grace. May those of us who have followed You for many years never begin to feel deserving. And likewise, may we never look at another individual, and see them as undeserving. Amen.
Date: 
Oct 11 2017