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)

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, 'You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.' And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.' And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' So the last will be first, and the first last."

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