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.”
(Matthew 20:9-16 ESV)
Most of us read the parable of the "Laborers in the Vineyard" in Matthew 20 and keep on reading as if we would not be like the first laborers and complain about the wages we received. The truth is that most of us if we are really honest are just like the laborers that were hired first. We think that we deserve more because we have put in more work. That is truly a man centered way of thinking that we all fall into.
Yes, this is a parable, but this parable is a picture of what the kingdom of heaven is like. As we see in verse 16 the last will be first, and the first last, which we as man do not like. This attitude of jealousy is often seen as God is blessing another church within our city. We quickly become accusatory towards this church and instead of thinking that it is God who is blessing we start to talk about how they are too seeker friendly, too charismatic, all about the money, etc. There may even be some truths to those accusing marks, but often time these come out of mouths way too early.
We also see this jealousy with others within any organization or business, especially Christian based ones. We tend to carry the attitude that if we have been with any certain group any amount of time longer that we should be the ones raised upon a petal stool, but we are quick to forget that the kingdom of heaven is vastly different than the way that man has organized their own structures.
We see a warning here to the early followers of Jesus' that they are not to despise those that came later or think of themselves as better because they are not. Unfortunately we all tend to forget this warning in this parable and fall into the entitlement trap of our culture. We are exactly like the first laborers and we need to stop! If we are honest with ourselves we have all been there but I must be honest again that I am tired of experiencing it from others. Be thankful for what God has blessed you with and what he has blessed others with and remember that you may have been first but the first will be last, and what you think you deserve may in actuality go to someone else. I will leave you with a challenging question, are you still going to praise God if he chooses to bless someone else where you think that you should have been blessed?