Matthew 20:1-9 What’s In It For Me?

“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[a] 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. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘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.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

What’s In It For Me?

Jesus, I do think that it is unfair sometimes that some people have been Christians for five minutes and they have these profound experiences of you.  I have walked through times of prolonged drought or personal confusion when I would have loved for you to be more tangible, but I have no guarantees.  I forget that you have been gracious and if you did no more it would have been enough.  You have developed more capacity in me to complete tasks and care for others, I should have been grateful for that.  However, I see those who keep going longer who accomplish ‘more’ and I think, why can’t I do that?  Why don’t you equip me to accomplish all the dreams that come into my mind?  So it seems unfair.  I have these dreams and desires that I have the time to do, but I do not have the energy or capacity to achieve.

I also have two beautiful children who need a fully present father.  That is a joy that I often take for granted.  I have a thoughtful wife who is becoming a safer and safer place for me to go.  I have a mother who would do anything for me.  God has lavished good things on me.  I have a shelter and a car.  I have a job that I love.  Although I don’t have a constant sense of your nearness, I have moments when I have felt you very close.  I had a powerful vision once of traveling around on horseback with you.  I felt connected to you then.  I had a strong sense of your presence when I was talking about you to people in my office.  I saw you show up in a breakthrough with my wife.  I have really been blessed, so help me not to compare myself to others.  Help me to be content with where you have me, but motivated to follow wherever you lead.


  • What pay scale would Jesus’ listeners have expected?
  • Why is it just for the employer to pay everyone the same?
  • Why would the recipients be discontented?
  • How have you been blessed more than others?
  • When are you discontented with what Jesus has given you?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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2 Responses to Matthew 20:1-9 What’s In It For Me?

  1. hannawarren says:

    Faith is not a feeling and God is never far; his arms are long. Anyways, May you have God in abundance within your heart, soul & mind. Let the heavens open above you so that you may see his face. May you feel him on your skin and hear him between your ears. May he be more real than all that you can visibly see.

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