God’s generosity and our human discontentment

Wednesday, November 7, 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: We need to celebrate the goodness of God when it happens to other people.

PURPOSE: For listeners to realize that God’s goodness to others doesn’t diminish us.

How do you respond to God’s goodness when you see it at work in your life? We usually take God’s goodness for granted. But sometimes something unexpectedly lovely takes place in your life. How do you respond?

How do you respond when you see God’s goodness displayed in someone else’s life?

Listen to this story that Jesus told about a group of men who received unexpected generosity from their employer.

I. How do you think that the different workers felt about what they received? I’d like to interview them. How would they react?

The fellows who worked for only an hour?

The fellows who worked for three hours?

The fellows who worked for half a day?

The men who were hired for a denarius early in the morning.

II. If the men who worked all day had been the only ones hired that day, do you think that they would have been upset?

Why does the owner ask, “Are you envious because I am good?” What makes us upset with God’s goodness to others?

Do we get upset when we see God do something out of the ordinary for a friend or a colleague?

Does a comparison with others link us to God’s goodness to us?

Can such comparisons affect our relationship to God negatively?