S (Scripture): Matthew 20:1 Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 After he agreed with the workers to pay them a denarion, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 “Then he went out around nine in the morning and saw others standing around the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I’ll pay you whatever is right.’ 5 And they went.
“Again around noon and then at three in the afternoon, he did the same thing. 6 Around five in the afternoon he went and found others standing around, and he said to them, ‘Why are you just standing around here doing nothing all day long?’
7 “‘Because nobody has hired us,’ they replied.
“He responded, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and moving on finally to the first.’ 9 When those who were hired at five in the afternoon came, each one received a denarion. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each of them also received a denarion. 11 When they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 ‘These who were hired last worked one hour, and they received the same pay as we did even though we had to work the whole day in the hot sun.’
13 “But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I did you no wrong. Didn’t I agree to pay you a denarion? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I want to give to this one who was hired last the same as I give to you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you resentful because I’m generous?’ 16 So those who are last will be first. And those who are first will be last.”
O (Observation): Jesus’ big challenge with God’s people was helping them to understand that their “privilege” as descendants of the Hebrew people did not necessarily give them an advantage over all other people who started understanding that God was for all people.
If non-Jews wanted to follow God, and their households wanted to follow God, then the Jewish people who “have been laboring all day in the hot sun” should not complain or be jealous of those who “worked on hour.” They will both receive the same salvation…the same grace.
But the jealous ones don’t see how this is fair…
A (Application): When newcomers come to our congregation, you can tell the joy and zest that comes with their involvement of current ministries and their excitement of starting new ministries. This is not the case in every congregation, but we do a fairly good job of bringing new folks on board and embracing them right where they are. We encourage them to apply their gifts to our various ministries.
Sometimes, the biggest zest for new life comes from newcomers. However, those who have been present “all day” have a lot of wisdom and know what it’s like to be out all day. They’ve seen the history of the place, and they have the opportunity to learn how God is doing a new thing in our church body.
The work of both the newcomer and the long-timer are of great value. We need both so as to better share the Good News. Let us not to turn to jealousy, but joy!
P (Prayer): Lord please see my life as one in which I can embrace the newcomer and the long-timer. Amen.