Tuesday, October 30, 2012
“But many who are first will be last, and the last first. For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 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?’ 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.’ 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.’ And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they murmured against the landlord, 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.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 19:30 – 20:16).
IDEA: Work in Christ’s harvest is a reward in itself.
PURPOSE: To help listeners see the value involved in working for Christ.
Have you ever heard anyone say that someone involved in ministry or missions is “wasting” his or her life?
Why do people make that judgment? What do those people feel would be a better investment of life?
Listen to this story that Jesus told. I want you to think about the workers. [READ Matthew 20:1-16.]
I. Suppose you were interviewing those men who were working in the vineyard about 4:45 p.m. How would the interview go?
How long have you been picking grapes today?
How do you get on a job like this? Is this steady work? What will you get paid for the work you are doing?
Isn’t it risky to start in without a contract? You could be cheated. Do you enjoy the work you do?
II. Suppose you interviewed those men standing in the marketplace at 4:45 in the afternoon:
Pardon me, Sir, I noticed that you and these other men are still standing here in the square. What are you waiting for?
Have you been here long?
Well, I suppose you’re glad you haven’t been hired. It must be nice to have a day off like this with nothing to do. It’s a bit like a vacation, isn’t it?
Most folks think of work as a chore. They look forward to the weekends and vacation. Isn’t that how you see it?
Isn’t it a bit late to be here this far into the day? It’s almost 5 o’clock. It will be sunset in an hour or so.
III. Who was better off that day? The men who worked all day or the men who could not find work? Why?
Do you pity men and women who spend their lives working in Christ’s vineyard?
The person to be pitied is the man or woman who gets up in the morning, drives to the same office, eats at the same restaurant, leaves the same tip, drives home at the same time, eats dinner, then flops down on the couch to watch television (except for bowling on Thursday evening), then goes to bed. Retires at 65 and dies at 69. And there is nothing eternal in their lives.
There is a difference between investing our lives and merely spending them. The Tartar tribes of central Asia curse their enemies, not by telling them to “Go to hell,” but by saying, “May you do nothing forever.”
Jesus Christ delivers us from that curse. By sending us into His vineyard, He has delivered us from eternal insignificance.