-Pastor Melissa Fain-
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and moving on finally to the first.’ 9 When those who were hired at five in the afternoon came, each one received a denarion. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each of them also received a denarion. 11 When they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 ‘These who were hired last worked one hour, and they received the same pay as we did even though we had to work the whole day in the hot sun.’
13 “But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I did you no wrong. Didn’t I agree to pay you a denarion? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I want to give to this one who was hired last the same as I give to you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you resentful because I’m generous?’ 16 So those who are last will be first. And those who are first will be last.”
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Matthew 20:8-16 CEB
Your value is not in your salvation. Also, your worth does not go up once you've found salvation.
We are called to treat people like their value.
God has deemed everyone has value. Everyone is priceless.
The lost coin still had value even though it was lost.
The lost sheep still had value even though it was lost.
The prodigal son still had value while eating the pig's slop.
My younger self saw Matthew 20 all wrong.
I was baptized when I was eight. It was a personal choice, one that my father let me make when I felt ready to make make it. I had heard Matthew 20 preached 4-5 times before seminary, and every time the minister never had me hooked. The longer I was a Christian, the more I realized I was the grumbling workers. I was putting in a full day's work, for the same pay as the ones that came at the last hour.
Every minister I had heard had taken this pay being salvation. I don't think so.
Coming to work is salvation. The denarion is placing value on the people. All of us have value. Just because I was baptized when I was eight, grew up in the church, and eventually went to seminary and was ordained, doesn't make my value any higher than anyone else. Instead of grumbling, I should see what is lost.
There are so many in this world who cannot see their inherent value. Be it because of Christians that have overinflated their own value, or circumstances that have demoralized and brought the person low.
I'm not the same person who started this Christian journey. I've gone from a puffed up idiot, grumbling to God about fairness, to helping others see they deserve as much as anyone else, even those who have been lost most of their lives.
That changes the ending of Matthew 20. We choose whether it's good or bad to be last.
If we're in it for ourselves, the ending is punishment by being put in our place at the end of the line.
If we're in it for the whole, everyone, the ending is reward. We have the opportunity to see people discover they have worth. It's a celebration of God's generosity. "Wow, God! Those people found themselves, and you gave them their own finder's fee! I'm glad I got to see that."
That's where our hearts and minds need to be. Jesus often didn't make the "new way" a path that had never been walked, but a new perspective on the path we walk every day.