A Right Attitude in Service

General Charles G. Gordon was an outstanding man of God. When the English government wanted to reward him for his distinguished service in China, he declined all money and titles. Finally, after much arguing, he accepted a gold medal inscribed with his name and a record of his ac … More


Jesus told a parable in which a landowner, during the period of grape harvest, had need of extra laborers, so he kept going out and hiring additional workers during the course of the day (vv. 1-7).  Early in the morning he hired workers who insisted on a contract and agreed to work for a penny a day which was an average day’s wages in that time. Those hired at the sixth, ninth, and eleventh, hours did not bargain for a definite wage but agreed to take whatever the owner thought was right.

At the end of the day the vineyard owner paid the workers all the same wage (vv. 8-10). When those who were hired in the morning found out those who were hired later in the day received the same amount of money as they did, they complained (vv. 11-12). Actually they had no argument, because they had agreed to work for a penny and they received what they asked for (vv. 13-15).

The lesson for Christ’s disciples is obvious (v. 16). We should not serve Him because we want to receive an expected reward, and we should not insist on knowing what we will get. God is generous and gracious and will always give us better then we deserve. This parable had nothing to do with salvation, for nobody works for his salvation. Nor is the parable talking about rewards, for we are not all going to receive the same reward (I Cor. 3:8). It is emphasizing a right attitude in service. The Lord can and does distribute His gifts as He wills. By definition, grace cannot be earned or deserved, so God is completely free to distribute His favor as He chooses.


When I live a good clean moral life, should it bother me when those who don’t get the same benefits as I do in this life? I need to remember that God is the one before whom all accounts will be settled.

Matthew 20:1-16 (English Standard Version)

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