12/20 Matthew 20:15

15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?"

Jesus told a parable comparing the kingdom of heaven to a vineyard owner hiring laborers. He hired people to go work from early morning, others at nine a.m., others at noon, others at three p.m. and finally some at five p.m. That evening they all came to collect their wages. He paid those who started at five p.m. a day's wages. He paid everyone else the same amount. Those who were hired first asked why they didn't get more, but they had agreed to work for a day's wage. The vineyard owner asked if he was allowed to do what he wanted with what was his. Did they begrudge his generosity?

While the Bible clearly teaches that we will each receive a reward according to our labor (1 Corinthians 3:8), we all receive the same great reward of eternal life in the presence of God. Some people begrudge those who come to Christ late in life while on death row in prison. They say it isn't fair that God would forgive a life of sin and crime at the last second, like the thief on the cross next to Jesus (Luke 23:43). Those who ask that question don't realize that salvation isn't fair at all. Why should Jesus have paid anyone's sin debt? If you came to Christ when you were five years old and from then on lived a holy life or at age 85 after a depraved life, either way, you must realize salvation is an undeserved gift of the grace of God.

It is hard for unbelievers to understand the pain and confusion that the five year old was spared from in this life. They can't understand what a blessing it is to live in relationship with Jesus, the peace it brings, and the comfort in hardship. The angels rejoice over every soul that comes into the kingdom at any stage in life (Luke 15:10). A person may not even get a chance to enter into the vineyard to labor, and yet the same grace that saved the five year old saves them too. Rejoice with the angels. The purpose of Christ's incarnation and suffering is fulfilled in each soul that is redeemed.

Consider: You may feel you have been a poor laborer. Remember that you are credited with the righteousness of Jesus. He started early and always did the Master's will with all His heart (2 Corinthians 5:21).