View print-optimized version

Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, September 19, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Matthew 20:1–16

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (NRSV)

The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who keeps hiring people until all are employed. Each time the landowner went out, he saw others. Why didn’t he see them before? It is never said that the others arrived later, just that the landowner saw them later. In fact, of the ones that he addresses at the end of the day at about five o’clock, he asks, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” This makes me wonder why did he not see them earlier, if they were standing there all day?

The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who acts in a certain way. Although he failed to see all the available workers early in the day, when he finally did see them, he made things right. This landowner never stopped using his position to include others, as long as he could. When his vision expanded, he included those who came to his attention. At the end of the day, he provided resources to each individual in a way that acknowledged the basic needs of everyone in his realm of influence. He treated all with equal dignity and respect and made it possible for them to return to their homes with dignity as well.

It’s hard for mere humans like us all to act with the same generosity of spirit. It’s easy for us to know our own story and our own needs, but harder to see the needs of others who are all around us but in circumstances different from our own. How can we begin to see and know the people we have not seen and known before now?

Dear God, give me a spirit of generosity. Fill me with a sense of sufficiency, that I am enough and have enough. Give me courage to expand my view, to see what and whom I have not seen. Help me to trust in your abundant life. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

Devotion index by date | Id like to receive daily devotions by email