How much was your Christmas bonus?
The same as yours.
NO FAIR! I’ve been working here for ten years. You’ve only been here a few days. Why should you get the same amount as me? Can’t the owner see that I’ve put in waaayyy more hours than you have. After all, I’ve worked countless nights and weekends for him. This is sooooo not fair.
A reasonable position, wouldn’t you think? After all, why shouldn’t someone be rewarded more for years of committed service? It only seems fair.
Should it work that way getting into heaven?
Should it be based on how many Sundays we showed up at church? If so, how many? Will one visit a year count? How about 10? Or does it need to be a full 52 Sundays a year?
Should it depend on how much we give to charity? If so, how much? Will $1 dropped in a Salvation Army kettle get me to heaven when someone else gives thousands to cancer research?
Should it depend on how many times we’ve read our bible? If so, how many times should I read it to make sure I’m saved?
How about how long we’ve served on church committees? Will a one-year commitment on a committee be acceptable? Or do we need to serve for two? Five? Ten?
Should years of being faithful be the criteria? If so, what happens to the new believer that dies prematurely…like, for example, the repentant thief being crucified next to Jesus?
The truth is, it matters not one bit to God.
In Matthew 20, Jesus tells a parable about the owner of a vineyard who went out to hire men to work for an agreed-upon wage. Some men worked all day in the vineyard. Needing more workers, the owner went out again around noon to find more who were willing to work. But they only worked a half day. Seeing there was still more work than laborers by mid-afternoon, he went out again to find more. But they only worked one hour before the day was over.
The trouble begins at the end of the day when they all get paid the same amount for their efforts. The ones who worked a full day complained it wasn’t fair that the others worked less and got the same amount. Even though the men who put in a full day’s work had agreed to a wage ahead of time, they complained when comparing their efforts with the others hired after them. While the ones who worked equally hard, but for only an hour probably thought the owner was extremely generous. But the point is that the owner of the vineyard is free to pay his workers whatever he wants…as long as he pays the agreed-upon price.
We tend to think of ourselves as people who work hard and deserve to be compensated for our efforts. But in this scenario, we should see ourselves as people who are getting an undeserved gift, regardless of how long or hard we’ve worked.
The truth is we can’t get to heaven based on how many wonderful things we’ve done. An impressive good-deed resume isn’t going to get us a voucher to go to the beginning of the line.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—Ephesians 2:8
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