October 07, 2012

The Eccentric Owner

Matthew 20:1-16

“Are you envious because I am generous?”
—Matthew 20:15


This parable is often called “The Workers in the Vineyard,” but the central character is really the eccentric landowner. The landlord needs workers to maintain his vineyard. Some hardy souls are standing on the street corner ready for work at daybreak. Others start work a while later. And then others. Some, however, loiter all day and put in only one hour of work at the end. How does the master respond? He gives all the workers the same pay!

This surprise gives us a window into the kingdom of God. God’s generous grace flows as freely to those who bow to Christ on their deathbed as to believers who have given a lifetime of service to Christ.

But the owner’s most industrious workers grumble and complain. And, surprisingly, he reprimands them, though they have endured the burden of the work and the heat of the day.

God is so concerned with producing generous and compassionate people that he rewards those who don’t put in a full life’s work. And he expects the rest of us to be happy about it.

This story gives us a mirror in which we must examine the areas of our life that fail to reflect God’s character. Often we compare ourselves with others and are convinced we deserve more. But God’s generosity transcends human ideas of fairness. Divine generosity gives to all, expecting nothing in return.

Gracious God, kind Savior, make us gracious and kind like you. Remove stinginess and faulty comparisons from our eyes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Dean Deppe

Dean Deppe has been a pastor in inner-city, suburban, and rural ­churches. Currently he teaches New Testament theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. His courses include one on the parables of Jesus. He and his wife have four grown children.

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