I used to be deeply offended by the ‘Parable of the workers in the vineyard’ (Matt 20:1-16). Inside, I grumbled along with the workers who had started in the morning and worked through the heat of the day. I would have expected more, too! And why did the owner have to push the point home by paying the late comers first?
Over time, God has taught me grace (as well as showing me a great deal of grace in my hard-heartedness!) and it no longer offends me. If we see the parable as an analogy of people coming to faith at different stages in life, including ‘death-bed repentance’, with everyone who calls on the name of the Lord being saved, then however long or briefly we’ve been in the Kingdom before being called home, we all inherit a place in our Father’s house by the blood of Jesus. But recently He showed me something new that was incredibly profound and liberating.
The mind-blowing reality that He opened my eyes to was how I viewed ‘labouring in the vineyard’ i.e. living for the Kingdom in this life. The workers in the vineyard moaned because they saw it as a chore. It was all work and no play. Duty and hardship! And I’d often seen being in the Kingdom here on earth as like that – a load of ‘don’ts’, and missing out on all the fun.
The reality is that being part of God’s Kingdom here on earth is a great honour. I’ve gained so much more from it than I could ever possibly give. I’ve learnt to love, to forgive, to say sorry… He gives me a quality of peace and joy that I would never experience without Him So, chore? No way! I’d work in His vineyard even if He didn’t pay me, just for the pleasure of being around Him and having Him as my master.