Matthew 20.1-12 – Rewards & Service of God
Posted: 15 July 2010 in Matthew

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For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard…..

……And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

In this passage God, of course, is the vineyard owner, and we are the labourers. But if we try to push the parable too far, it immediately breaks down. Real labourers working in a real vineyard would, naturally, have a right to expect that their labours would be duly rewarded at the end of the day. However, the situation is different when God is the vineyard owner and we are the labourers. In the latter case we, the labourers, are already infinitely in the vineyard owner’s debt. He created us, in order that we could serve him, and we owe our very existence to him.

Therefore we can do nothing to pay off our debt, and still less can we put God in our debt. At the end of his/her life, somebody who had spent the last fifty years doing missionary work in some run down slums in India, would still be as much in God’s debt as somebody who underwent a deathbed conversion just hours before their death. Neither of them have the right to expect that they will receive any reward from God, and, if they are both brought to salvation, they must both equally receive it as an unmerited free gift.

If a Christian’s service of God is going to be motivated by anything at all, it has to be motivated by love, and not by any expectation of reward.

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