This past week, in my Bible reading (on Friday), I read a passage many know, and that’s the parable of the vineyard laborers (Matthew 20:1-16).
This section of scripture is powerful and contains many truths. One is well-known: the glory of going to heaven, to be with our Father forever, is available to all, equally, at all times of life.
Certain men were hired early in the day, and received a wage. And the parable says that even the men who were hired at the end of the day received the same wage as the men who were hired at the start of the day.
This indicates that the reward of heaven is available to all, and God accepts all regardless of when they turn to Him, whether at the beginning or end of life.
God is good. That is one reason the reward is the same for all. Another factor is tied into the penalty our sins deserve, which is death. Romans 6:23 explains that price for sins. Romans 3:23 and Romans 5:12 explain that all sin, and the curse is on all. Thus, we rejoice in the grace of God, that He receives all at any time, truly, “whosoever will.”
Another part interested me, though, and that is the idea of envy. As the passage indicates, some of the workers of the vineyard who had worked through the heat of the day did not appreciate the same amount of pay being given to the men who only worked an hour. Indeed, Matthew 20:11-12 says they grumbled to the vineyard owner.
And that brings about the question for us: do we grumble with our lot in life? There is no other way to say it, life is not fair. And it is unfair in a most inconsistent manner. Some good people have difficulties that, in our eyes, they don’t deserve. Some who we would regard as wretched and undeserving have an abundance of blessings.
Many of these discrepancies can be traced back to living in a sinful world, and that God gives gracefully to all, even the wicked.
But some of it is also just circumstances. We are going through Genesis. Many of the wives of the patriarchs (Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel) struggled with being barren. In the case of Rachel, she was barren while her sister Leah was not. Why? Simple. Life is not fair. In the situation of Leah, why did she have a husband who did not love her? Life is not fair.
What about you? What about me? We have different situations in life. Different from one another, and certainly not the same as many people we know. Maybe your health is worse than that of a friend. Maybe your neighbor’s family is perfect (it really isn’t, but seems perfect), and yours is not.
In a sin-filled world, there is no guarantee that these situations will change. Here is what can change: our attitude. We can pray that, whatever the circumstances, Christ will be exalted.
This was the cry of Paul in Philippians 1. He faced the possibility of death, but he did not even necessarily want to live. He just wanted Christ to be exalted. So we, as well, should pray that, whatever the circumstances, Jesus receive glory from our lives.
And of course, the other change we should make is to cease envy. If our neighbor has something good, why should we complain? As the vineyard owner (who, in the parable represents God) says, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?”
Whatever the circumstances, remember: they may not be fair, but Christ can be exalted. Praise the Lord!
Until next time, in Christ,