Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
In society today, most everyone wants to “get ahead.” Companies are fighting for the best sales. Stores are competing for the most customers. Individuals in corporations are getting “after it” for the promotion, raise, and recognition. Is there a position, a job, a raise, or a recognition that you would like to receive today?
Peter was asking about rewards and the benefits of faithful Christianity in chapter 19. Jesus responds by giving a parable concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. Parables are earthly stories with a heavenly meaning.
After reading Matthew 20:1-16, we can make the following conclusions:
- There is work to be done.
- Workers are needed.
- There is an owner/ householder to reckon with.
The householder offers jobs to different people at different times of the day. Four more waves of workers are added to the workforce before the day is over. When the work day is complete, the workers go to the householder to receive their wages. After watching all these people “come late” to the workforce, the initial hired workers thought they would receive a greater wage. They modified their “expectations” from what they had “agreed” upon in verse 2. A penny a day was a good wage back in this time for manual labor in the field. They were severely disappointed however that they did not get more money or recognition for their day-long effort in the field. Were they cheated?
Verse 15 is key to how to view this: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” We must love this response! Is the householder (Jesus) evil because he is seemingly “more generous” to other workers? The answer is no! Jesus is always just and right. Anything good comes from God! James 1:17 declares. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Avoid feeling shortchanged when another person is blessed, promoted or recognized. Whenever a good thing happens to another person – be happy for them!
When others get a promotion or raise – be encouraged for them. When others get a new car or an update on their house, be blessed along with them. When their kids turn out right, don’t be jealous – be thrilled! When someone else gets to teach or receives a position at church – be thrilled for them! We are commanded in Romans 12:15 to “rejoice with them that do rejoice!”
Christian, keep serving, even if you are not the one being applauded. We do not need to fight to get “ahead” of others! My father used to say while we were growing up as teenagers: “We are all on the same team.” What a great truth! Whenever another servant of our Lord wins, we all win!