January 30
Laborers in the vineyard
Matthew 20:1-16

KEY VERSE: "So the last will be first, and the first will be last." Matthew 20:16

This scripture invites us to examine our motive for Christian service and to be careful not to fret about how God rewards other workers.

If we expect to be rewarded with financial success for serving God, we shall be disappointed. God has promised to be with us and to provide what we need, but He never promises us earthly wealth. He meets our needs, not our wants.

For years it has been my custom not to pursue the employment of church staff persons whose primary concern appears to be the salary package and benefits. I am always looking for a person who wants an opportunity for ministry, not a "job" that "pays well."

While we should not expect Christian workers to be happy with paltry wages, we should expect God's servants to serve with humility and gratitude. The right spirit has left the person who constantly compares what he or she makes with the wages of other workers, and harps about being treated unfairly.

If Jesus makes any point in this parable, it is surely that God is God. He can do as He wishes. He is not accountable to us for His decisions and He does not owe us an explanation as to why one person is paid more than another.

We are on shaky ground when we begin to point out God's mistakes. Our part is to obey Him and to be thankful that He has called us to work in His vineyard, no matter how lowly the task to which He has called us. Who am I, who are you, to tell God what He should do?

Comparing our rewards with each other usually leads to envy and jealousy. These attitudes rob us of our effectiveness as His servants and result in disastrous relationships with our fellow servants.

Whatever God has called us to do, let us do it joyfully, as unto the Lord, not with an eye on a paycheck. Our greatest reward will be the applause of heaven when the Lord permits us to see Him face to face, and says to us personally, "Well done." There is no "package" on earth quite as wonderful as the Father's approval at the last.