Tuesday, November 13, 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: Murmuring keeps us from enjoying the generosity of God PURPOSE: To help listeners understand the danger of focusing on what they think they should have rather than on what they do have. Listen to a parable that Jesus told. It deals with the owner of a vineyard and a number of His workers. Do you think this parable is talking about true followers of Jesus Christ? I. Do you think that the workers who were hired at 6:00 in the morning were "Christians"? They murmured against the owner. What does that mean? Do you think their murmuring was morally wrong? These workers weren't punished for their complaining. What do you make of the fact that they received their pay and got only a gentle rebuke? II. Do you think, then, in the light of the gentle rebuke, that it didn't matter much that they murmured? They did receive a rebuke from the master. Because they saw him as unfair, they were unable to see him as generous. That may have been behind God's complaint against the nation of Israel when it grumbled against God and against Moses (Exodus 16:6-8, Deuteronomy 1:27-28). As a result of their grumbling, the people of the Old Testament had a twisted view of God. The early workers were punished: they punished themselves. They got the reward that was coming to them, but they lost the heart to enjoy it. Consider how they would have felt if they were the only workers all day long. All of the workers received the same amount of pay. Those who were first into the vineyard had the least joy, and those who went in last had the most joy. Was their joy based on how much they had received? The discontented are never happy, and jealousy becomes a torment to the soul. We will have no pleasure in anything God gives us unless we concentrate on what we have and receive it with thanks.