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Friday, November 9, 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 can overcome bitterness and resentment at God’s gracious dealings with others when we deal only with God alone.

PURPOSE: To help listeners deal with envy of others.

Have you ever envied anyone?

What lies behind envy? Do you think it is something that should concern us? Why?

Listen to this parable Jesus told in Matthew 20:1-18. What prompted the rebellion of the workers at the end of the day?

I. Do you think that the laborers spent their whole work day in envy?

Do you think that the fellows who were hired last might have been envious? What caused their envy?

As long as the workers agreed with the owner about the wages, they were content. It was when the others showed up and were paid that the haggling broke out. Envy began.

Isn’t it true that we can get angry about God’s goodness when we look at what God has done for others in the vineyard, then compare it with what God should or should not have done for us?

II. How do we deal with the differences?

Deal with God alone.

As long as He allows you to gather His crop, gather it. Don’t compare what He has or hasn’t done for you with what you think He has done for other people.

Meister Eckhart, the mystic, said, “The foundation of spiritual blessing is this – the soul looks to the goodness of God with nothing in between.”