August 20, 2018 by directorfsm
Matthew 20: 13-16 (KJV)
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
When the time comes to pay the workers (Lev. 19:13), those who served a short time receive the same as those who labored for hours (Matt. 20:8–10). This latter group of workers grumbles that they do not get more (vv. 11–12), but this is entirely inappropriate. As Matthew Henry comments, “God is a debtor to no man.” Our Lord has the sovereign right to do as He wills, says John Calvin, and “men have no right to complain of the bounty of God, when he honors unworthy persons by large rewards beyond what they deserve.” Though our Father’s favor may fall disproportionately on those who to us seem to be the least deserving, no one can accuse Him of giving less than what He has promised (Matt. 20:13–16).
This passage does not exhaust all there is to say about rewards, as we see in Jesus’ teaching elsewhere (25:14–30). The point here is only that God, by grace alone, makes all believers citizens of the kingdom regardless of their service or fervor. None deserve His favor, and we must never think that He owes us a reward, nor should we be resentful when those who have flouted His will most visibly and heinously also find blessing “at the last minute” (Luke 15:11–32).
Coram deo: Living before the face of God
All sins make us guilty before the Lord, but some sins are worse than others in their impact on people and in the way they violate God’s will. We might think it strange that our Father calls the most notoriously wicked people to be His children, but, as Calvin says, “God is not limited to any person, but calls freely whomsoever He pleases, and bestows on those who are called whatever rewards He thinks fit.”
For further study: Proverbs 14:30