Sometimes God’s grace is so outrageous it can offend us. We know we are saved by grace through faith. That is one of the greatest and most important Biblical doctrines. It is one of the things that we hold to the tightest. It is something that needs to define who we are and who know God to be. It creates a level of equality with our walk with God and our walk with each other. It shows we all need God and that God loves us all.
But for those of us that have been walking with God for a while, if we are going to be honest, it doesn’t always seem fair. What do I mean by that? Listen to what we see at the end of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 20: 9-16:
9When those hired about five oclock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, 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. 13But he replied to one of them, Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous? 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.
In this parable, different people come to work for a landowner throughout the day, all agreeing to work for a day’s wage. Well, then the folks that started at 8 saw that the folks that started at 5 got a full day’s wage, they thought they were going to get more. However, when they got paid, they got a full day’s wage, just like the folks that worked for an hour. And they were mad! This isn’t right! They worked all day, those other folks only worked an hour. How come they got the same. Then the owner reminds them that they are getting what they agreed to. And can he not be generous?
That is a perfect picture of who God is. He is a generous God. He gives mercy and grace freely to all who will receive. All need His grace and all will receive His grace if they only will.
So, what benefit is there to having walking with God for many years instead of just getting in at the end? The Christian faith is not just about going to heaven. It is about living with and for God every day. I am thankful that I am a Christian, and my life has more peace now than it ever had before I was a Christian. I am thankful that I have been able to walk with Him for many years, and, in His kindness, I hope to walk with Him upon the earth for many more years.
In this understanding the first ones in the field are not taken advantage of, they are the fortunate ones, for they have been with the master for a longer time. They have been under his care for a longer time. They have been blessed for longer, which should have made them even more thankful.
So, today, if you have been walking with God for years, thank Him. But, don’t be mad about deathbed conversions. Don’t be mad about folks that don’t measure receiving grace. Don’t be mad about anyone receiving grace because we all need grace.
There is not a hierarchy of worth in the kingdom of God. We are all in need of grace and we all can receive grace. We are not saved by our worth by saved by His effort. For those that have been saved for years – rejoice! For those that were saved yesterday – rejoice!
And may none of us ever take God’s grace for granted and may none of us ever be envious of how God shows His mercy.