Thursday 24 November 2011

Bible Book:

"Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?" (v. 15)

Matthew 20:1-16 Thursday 24 November 2011


In today's passage the unfairness of God's saving grace ishighlighted. The concept of 'fairness' in human terms is quiteremoved from the word that we might tie with it when God speaks. Ajust God is not one who is concerned with 'fairness' in our worldlysense, but deals with us with more generosity than we could evereven consider. This parable shows us two versions of ourselves; thegrumbling, hard working employee, who feels hard done by, notbecause of their own treatment, but their perception that someoneelse has been given better. The second version of ourselves in thisstory is the employee who is essentially given something fornothing, or at least, something that they don't deserve. This then,is one of Jesus' very clear illustrations about God's grace - lifechanging, and at odds with how the world works.

Again, like yesterday's reading, we hear that phrase, that"the last will be first, and the first will be last" (v. 16). Andagain, this surely would have angered those workers who havelaboured all day, and it might anger us too, if we considerourselves worthy of being first in the line. But there is the cruxof the matter. None of us are worthy, and even if we laboured for1,000 years, we couldn't make ourselves so. Given that this is thecase, we might as well acknowledge that the queuing system, likethe rewards scheme, is completely outside of our worldly standards,and so to apply 'normal' standards to it is as fruitless as canbe.

In his sermon Salvation by Faith John Wesley calls this"favour altogether undeserved; man having no claim to the least ofhis mercies". All of those workers were undeserving, so to pointout that one of your co-workers is getting an easy ride meansnothing in terms of your own career. God's grace to us must begracefully received, or else we only succeed in showing how littlewe have understood this most precious of gifts. When we hear theemployer's words "take what belongs to you and go" (v. 14), this issurely a strong reminder of what a distance it is from God's graceto the parallel world where we could be if we were left outside ofwhat God desires for us. What belongs to us is not worth knowingabout; everything we have is through the grace of almightyGod.

To Ponder

What does God's grace mean to you?

Who do you most associate with in this story?Why? Is that a place that you want to be? Again why?

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