What’s In It for Me?
The rich young ruler had determined that having financial security was more important than having eternal security for his soul. As he walked away from Jesus, Peter asked, “We chose to follow You and we’ve given up our businesses and homes to follow You. What about us?” Jesus told him that “in the renewal of all things” (a reference to the Messianic Age with new heavens and a new earth), the twelve disciples would be well compensated with remarkable privileges. “But”, Jesus said, “many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” (Matthew 19:30). To explain what He meant, Jesus told a story about a landowner who hired men to work in his fields.
In the early morning hours of the day, the owner agreed with some men to pay them one denarius for twelve hours of work. Later that day, the owner hired more men to work a partial day. Finally, he hired men to work the last hour of the day. When it came time to pay his laborers, the ones hired last were paid first. To their surprise, they were paid a denarius. Of course, the guys who had worked all day expected they’d get paid a lot more. To their shock, they also received one denarius. Mad that they had worked longer than the others, they cried, “It’s not fair.”
The story isn’t about fairness. It’s about the generosity of God. Nor is it about getting into Heaven. No one EARNS that privilege, regardless of how long a person serves God. Notice that the first men hired had “agreed” to work the day for one denarius. This carries the idea that they had a contract with the landowner. They would serve him with the expectation that they would be compensated a certain amount. The men hired at other times left it up to the land owner to pay them what he felt was right, not knowing what that would be.
Will pastors be given the greatest rewards? How about traveling evangelists? What about our partners in India and Rwanda? Will elderly believers be rewarded more than young converts just starting their faith journey? There’s just no way to equate these various situations.
We should come away from reading this story, asking ourselves, “Am I serving God just for what I’ll get out of it, or am I serving Him because I love Him and am grateful for His generosity?” It does no good to compare our service to the Lord to that of others. The wonder of the Lord is that He knows each of us so well that He is able to measure our motivation for serving Him. He is very generous, and we can be confident that He will reward us with far more than we DESERVE.