If you were totally honest, how would you define your motive for following Christ?
Jesus addressed this question in the conclusion of His Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, where he likened the kingdom of heaven to a landowner who went out early to hire men to work his vineyard, agreeing to pay the customary day’s wage of a denarius for laboring from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. A little before 9:00 a.m., the landowner hired more workers, agreeing to pay them “whatever is right” (Matthew 20:3-4). He did the same thing at 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m., with only an hour remaining in the workday (see Matthew 20:5-7). At 6:00 p.m., the landowner broke custom by paying the one-hour workers first with a full day’s wages. The first group who had worked the entire day in the hot sun expected more than the latecomers, and they began to grumble when they received only their originally agreed-upon per diem of a denarius.
The Motive is Revealed (see Matthew 20:13-16). The landowner responded to one of the grumblers from the first group hired, revealing their motive: “Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my money? Or are you envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:13-15). Whereas the latecomers had served the landowner with an attitude of gratitude, the first group had served themselves.
Jesus concluded the parable with the same point He used to begin it: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16). God’s grace in Christ evens the score with everyone (see Corinthians 8:9). It’s a tie. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. We are all the latecomers in the parable, and Jesus’ gift of abundant and eternal life compels us to serve the Landowner with an attitude of gratitude (see Matthew 19:28-30).
When we receive God’s unmerited favor, His undeserved love, we recognize that kingdom service is varied among those who walk this earth, yet His reward is generous to all, and our motive to serve Christ is revealed. An attitude of gratitude represents the heart of someone who has truly received God’s amazing grace.
This week, don’t use your gifts to serve yourself; rather, use them to serve God as you generously administer His grace to those you encounter (see 1 Peter 4:10). Do so with an attitude of gratitude.