Monday, November 5, 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: God may deal with us unequally but never unjustly. PURPOSE: To help listeners realize that God is always just to everyone. To others He is more than just; He is gracious. Young children often insist that some action of an adult isn't "fair." What do they mean when they say that? Is there a difference between fairness and justice? I. Listen to this parable that Jesus told in Matthew 20:1-16. Was the owner being unjust when he gave out unequal pay to his laborers? What was the nature of the workers' complaint? Was the owner unjust in what he had done? Is unequal treatment necessarily unjust treatment? II. What motivated the vineyard owner to do what he did paying off the workers? Goodness and Grace. Justice forms the necessary background against which goodness is goodness and not unfairness. The emphasis of the parable falls on the magnificent generosity of the owner. Yet he seems unjust in how he treated some of the workers. Would the owner be good if he had paid the earliest workers less than they had agreed on? God is never unjust when He displays His grace. You must have a claim on God to make His action unjust. Justice is getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you didn't deserve.