Working in a Time of Grace
‘These men 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.’
Matt. 20:12, NIV
Matthew 20 often irritates us. People are working the entire day, and along comes people who have only worked for one hour. This discrepancy drives the believer nuts. How in the world could such a thing take place? It is foolishness to us who insist on a grace of appropriateness. We want grace to be fair, recognizing the person who has worked very hard.
The problem is that God is outrageous with His grace and love. He completely expands us to a point where we must embrace a grace that is completely beyond us. We have to break down and accept what is available to us. Grace completely dumps us upside down. We can only proceed if we accept His definition of Grace.
Those who have labored the least are made equal to those who work the hardest. This seems incredibly unfair and we revolt against such extravagance. It strikes us as outrageously unfair. How can those who worked only an hour receive the exact same amount as those who have labored a full eight?
The miracle of this shockingly outrageous grace is that we are confronted by a profound freedom. We basically get brought to the point where we get stripped of these illusions and need to walk out the scripture. It has the tendency to eliminate the issues that could block us and bring us to a most receptive position.
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.”
We must admit that God’s grace reaches out to everyone.
That He has the deep, deep desire to see that each of us connect with His love. This is indeed the radicalness of the gospel. It is outrageous and astonishing. That He would love us who have hated Him. Our sense of equity is completely undone. His grace completely turns us upside down. I think that is a good thing.