If we have a work-for-wages spirit, and think we are more deserving than others, because we have worked harder or longer, we have seriously misunderstood the principle of grace: none of us deserves a thing from God except destruction, hell, death and miseries in this life – any reward that a son of Adam gets for service that was our duty to render gladly is given by our Father in an infinite measure of grace (how then can we compare infinite reward with infinite reward?).
Do you ever get annoyed when others get praise and no one compliments you? Maybe you honestly believe that you have borne the greater burden but others have arrived late with far lighter loads and attracted all the plaudits? Perhaps you have been overlooked having served quietly for years while others have advanced having come recently on the scene? Did you faithfully humble yourself under God’s mighty hand with modest gifts only to be surpassed by a johnny-come-lately person with stellar attributes? Are you sidelined now while others are centre-stage? And does it eat you up, make you green with envy, tempt you to get bitter, or fill you with rage or resentment? Or are you just a little bit half-hearted in applauding their rise? Is it just a matter of being tempted by morsels of envy? Have you been too quick to criticise or sneer when they finally slipped-up, which is what you always secretly hoped? Did you sneakily enjoy getting the knife in (with a twist) when you could? Then this is for you – I suspect that means us all – some of us in ways more subtle than others!
I’ve just been reading through William Hendriksen’s brilliant commentary on Matthew (I love most of his stuff – concise, clear, complete, generally-speaking – one of my ‘go-to’ guys).
I had been studying Matthew 20:1-16 in my personal devotions. I have to confess (to my shame) it is a parable that I have never properly nailed down before: I hadn’t taken the time to reflect properly on what it taught.
Hendricken makes 3 summary points as to what Jesus is getting at – let me share them with you, in their commandment ‘imperatival’ form: