ODB: Not Counting

April 5, 2014

READ: Matthew 20:1-16 

The last will be first, and the first last. —Matthew 20:16

The play Amadeus tells of a composer in the 18th century seeking to understand the mind of God. The devout Antonio Salieri has the earnest desire, but not the aptitude, to create immortal music. It infuriates him that God has instead lavished the greatest of musical genius ever known on the impish Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The play poses the same question as the book of Job, only inverted. The author of Job wonders why God would punish the most righteous man on the face of the earth; the author of Amadeus ponders why God would reward someone so undeserving.

Jesus’ parable of the workers and their grossly unfair paychecks confronts this scandal head-on. Some people who have been idly standing around are hired by a landowner at “the eleventh hour” (Matt. 20:6-7). The other workers, who have been serving him all day long, are shocked when each receives identical pay. What employer in his right mind would pay the same amount for one hour’s work as for 12!

Jesus’ story makes no economic sense, and that was His intent. He was giving us a parable about grace, which cannot be calculated like a day’s wages. God dispenses gifts, not wages.

— Philip Yancey

Lord, I forget sometimes that my efforts cannot earn
Your love or grace or forgiveness.
You have lavished grace on me as a gift
and not a wage. Thank You.

In the realm of grace, the word “deserve” does not apply.

Source: Our Daily Bread