“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
This is a comforting message to anyone who converted to Christianity later in life. We will all go to Heaven, will we all get equal rewards, whether we’ve been Christians since the day we were born, or whether we accept Christ on our death bed. It doesn’t matter because God is generous. He will forgive all our sins, whether we’ve never in our lives asked before, or if the last time we asked was an hour ago. It’s all the same to Him. He loves us all equally.
It’s also a gentle warning against getting all high and mighty. Be careful not to expect special treatment from God, from your church, or from other people because you have been toiling in God’s name for a long time. If you’re doing God’s work in the hope of getting recognition or special treatment, that’s not right. That’s not the point! We labor for God because we love Him. It’s so easy to accidentally find yourself waiting for or seeking praise. I know that I love to see my name in the church bulletin. It makes me feel special, like a part of the church. But that can easily turn into an idol. This Easter I played in the orchestra at church, and there just wasn’t room in the bulletin to recognize the musicians by name. At first I was very put-out. How was anyone supposed to know how awesome I was, or how much I loved God? THEN the music minister recognized individually a high-schooler in our congregation who was playing with us (and rightfully so, he is an extremely talented young man!), but not me. I was slightly hurt. But then I realized I was looking for my own glory instead of playing for God’s glory. I chastised myself and got over it. We must be on the constant watch for our pride. It sneaks up on us and can turn even the most Godly of actions in to sin.