Devotional Thoughts for Today
Matt. 20:1-16 (NIV): “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.  He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.  About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing.  He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’  So they went. He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing.  About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’  ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’  When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’  The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.  So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.  When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.  ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’  But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’  So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
A large freshmen class was told by the professor to submit their monthly assignments on the last day of the month—from September to November. The fifty students who missed the first deadline were given a failing grade, but the professor showed them mercy when they pleaded for leniency on account of not yet being acclimated to college life. Later, hundred students missed the second deadline, but the professor again showed them mercy on account that midterm exams were too much for them. Once the word got around about the professor’s leniency, almost everyone missed the final deadline. When told that they will all get an “F,” they yelled “Unjust!” to which the professor asked, “Do you want me to be just?” When they said “Yes,” he declared, “Everyone who missed the deadline for previous assignments all get an ‘F’.”
This story and the parable above are very similar except for the people involved. The landlord goes out to the market place on several occasions to hire men for his vineyard. Like the day laborers of today, these are desperate men in need of work. The earliest hired laborers probably worked for twelve hours; the last hired, only one. Those who worked the longest, after seeing that the last hired received a denarius (a day’s wage), expected more; they were disappointed. Then the landlord, like the professor, was accused of being unjust. In response, he pointedly said to his accusers, “I’m not being unfair; I can do whatever I want with my money. You received the agreed amount; with others I’m being generous.”
One of the toughest questions, usually raised by Christians, is, “Would God send those who never heard the gospel to hell?” This may seem unfair, but it’s not for those who are already saved to say since God was never obligated to save anyone; the fact that He saved us from our misery certainly doesn’t give us the right to accuse him on account that not everyone receives an equal chance of being saved. People are going to hell because of their sins, not because they haven’t heard the gospel. Now that we’re saved by grace, we should be active in sharing the good news.
O God, how I see the reality from my perspective and then accuse you of being unfair. Amend my viewpoint; transform my worldview; change my opinion according to how it really is from your standpoint so that I may remain grateful and thankful to You for saving me from the pit of hell. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 64
Lunch Break Study
Read Ps. 103:9-10 (NIV): “He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;  he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”
Lam. 3:22-3 (ESV): “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Ez. 18:23 (NASB): “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?”
2 Pet. 3:9 (NASB): “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Question to Consider
- The New Atheists, such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, love to portray God in the worst possible light, calling Him all kinds of terrible names. What do these passages reveal about the true nature of God?
- Do Ps. 103:9-10 and Lam. 3:22-3 suggest that God doesn’t punish sin? What is that called?
- If someone says that God is eager to send people to hell, how would you personally respond?
- Contrary to the assertions of the New Atheists, God is gracious towards us by giving gifts that we don’t deserve and merciful by not punishing us in proportion to what we have done against Him.
- It does suggest that the God of justice will punish us when we sin and remain unrepentant, but not to its fullest measure or extent: this is called God’s mercy.
- On the contrary, God doesn’t take any pleasure in anyone perishing in hell; instead, He wants everyone to turn from their wicked ways and find God. In fact, hell was created with the devil in mind, not us (Matt. 25:42: “The eternal fire prepared for the devil”).
As you reflect on this day, was there a moment in which you encountered God’s amazing grace poured out for you? This past Sunday, I went to help my daughter whose car had veered off the icy road. I was thinking of God’s grace because neither she was hurt nor her car was damaged. I thanked Him.