Matthew 20:15

“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”

In His parable, Jesus told of a house holder who went to the marketplace to hire workers to labor in his vineyard. He said that the kingdom of heaven is like this.

The house holder went to the market in the morning, then at the third hour, at the sixth hour, at the ninth hour, and at the eleventh hour, and hired workers. With the first group, hired at his first visit to the marketplace, he agreed on a wage; a penny, which at that time was a sustenance wage. The others were told they would receive what was right.

When the time came to be paid, at the house holder’s direction, the ones that were hired last were paid first, and those who were hired first were paid last. And, everyone was paid a penny. Seeing that the last hires were paid a penny, those that were hired first thought that they would receive more, because they had done the most work, and had born the heat of the day. But, when they received the wage they had agreed to, they were upset. The verse above is part of the conversation the house holder had with one of those workers.

The first question he asked emphasized his position. What he had was his to manage at his own will. Nobody else had control over or claim on his things. This is as it should be. He and the first group of workers had agreed to a specific amount. To the rest, he promised he would pay what was right. There are many things he could have done, such as prorate their pay based on the time they worked. But He chose to pay them all the same.

That was appropriate because all of the workers had what they needed to get through the day. Had he not paid all of the workers a penny, some would have not been able to meet their daily family obligations. Anything less would have been to the workers’ detriment. What the house holder did was kind, and right.

When it comes to salvation, it is not what an individual has done or endured that matters. It depends solely on the generosity of the House Holder. He is free to do as He pleases with what is His, including who may come into His presence. Blessings are gained from His hand only in accordance with His will and ways. He is very generous, good, and kind. But just like any house holder, there are things that simply cannot be brought into His home. For example, speaking of the LORD, Habakkuk 1:13 states, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…”. Speaking of mankind as a whole, Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” Nothing of sin will be allowed into His eternal presence, and we all fall far short of His glory.

The second question summarizes the parable; “Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” The first-hired workers concluded that the house holder was being unkind to them. They worked the whole day while others worked only one hour. Yet he paid them all the same amount. So, they grumbled at him. They were not thankful for what he did give them, which was according to the agreement that they had made in the first place. Rather, they accused him and thought evil of him because he was being generous.

This exposes the human heart, as does the first question. In mankind, there is an expectation that God will just hand out whatever we demand of Him. We think that our view of matters is correct, and our solutions are right. And if He doesn’t deliver, then He is not worthy of our attention, much less our affection. We accuse Him of being ungenerous, unkind, and uncaring.

God does want to have fellowship with mankind. But, in order for that to happen the problem of the sin of mankind must be addressed. As noted above, there is nothing we can do to solve that problem. But, God took matters into His own hands, solving the problem through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In our place Jesus took God’s wrath, which we deserve, for our sin. And through His sacrifice, mankind has a legal way to gain eternal blessings from the House Holder. How much more generous does He need to be? Are we angry with Him because of His generosity? May it never be!

Great God of wonders! all Thy ways
Display Thine attributes divine;
But the bright glories of thy grace
Above Thine other wonders shine:

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

Such deep transgressions to forgive!
Such guilty sinners thus to spare!
This is Thy grand prerogative,
And in this honor none shall share:

Pardon, from an offended God!
Pardon, for sins of deepest dye!
Pardon, bestowed through Jesus? blood!
Pardon, that brings the rebel nigh!
CHORUS (Samuel Davies)

Genesis 6:5, 6

“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”

These verses include a word regarding the LORD that may strike us as odd. According to them, God saw the wickedness of men, and He repented that He had made man on the earth! We might wonder, God repented? As we see it, repentance is turning away; to go the opposite direction; to change the mind. Is this what God is saying in these verses? Not only in this verse, but in the Old Testament, the word repent, or related, is used 45 times. In all but eight, the context shows that it is the LORD that is repenting, or is being asked to repent. Did He decide that He made a mistake when He made men on the earth? Can an omniscient God make mistakes? Can He change His mind?

The Hebrew word translated “repented” can be translated “sigh”. All parents can think of instances when they gave direction to their children. Then, in childishness or rebellion, they went a different way, and ended up in trouble. When that happens, every parent can only shake their head and sigh. They are disappointed. They see how the child’s actions brought about their trial, and they know they told them differently. Parents may even be put in a position where there is nothing they can do to help their children. The children are forced to deal with the consequences themselves. And parents sigh. They know that if the children had listened, their situation would be much different.

When the LORD saw the direction that His creatures had taken, and the results of their actions, He repented; that is, He sighed, and was grieved. It didn’t surprise Him. He had given them rules. But they refused to listen. Their situation was of their own making. He was not surprised because He is omniscient, knowing all.

But God must also be true to His character. To ignore their transgressions would have violated God’s own laws. And, it would not have been good for the people. It was because of God’s justice and the people’s sin, that the flood fell on creation. Their behavior put men and women at odds with God. There is no telling how awful things would have gotten if mankind had not been stopped. But it surely would have gotten worse. So, in that sense, God was being merciful.

There are only two realms in which mankind lives: physical and spiritual. Scriptures teach that the physical is temporary and the spiritual is eternal. After living in the physical, every human being goes into the spiritual realm for eternity. Via the flood, every one of those people were ushered into the spiritual realm. They were stopped in their rebellion against God’s commands, and stood before the Lord. Then they were judged for their behavior. Death was not their judgment. According to Hebrews 9:27, after death comes judgment, “… it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment…”.

We are also told that the behavior of people grieved God’s heart. Again, He wasn’t surprised. He wasn’t wondering about what Plan “B” would be. Because they want nothing but the best for them, parents are grieved at the behavior of their wayward children. So was God grieved at His wayward creatures. A parent’s desire is to see their children succeed and do well. So is God’s heart for His creatures. The behavior of those people before the flood was against God; only evil continually, as the verse above notes.

The word that is translated “repent” in Genesis 6:6 can also be translated console or comfort. For example, after the first child that was born to David and Bathsheba died, scriptures tell us that David comforted his wife, and in time Solomon was born. (2 Samuel 12:24). In the physical sense, it is impossible to see comfort in the events that brought about the flood, or in the flood itself. But spiritually, God had a plan from before He created all things. By His plan, He would reconcile mankind to Himself. That plan involved Him coming to earth as a man and enduring God’s wrath against mankind’s sin in their place. In that way, God’s justice would be satisfied, and mankind would have a way to spend eternity in His presence. Jesus came to earth for that very reason. The Father sees in Him the comfort of a way to reconcile mankind to Himself. “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

Though He sighed and was grieved, God was not taken aback. He had devised a plan by which mankind would be able to spend eternity with Him, and He with them. As dark as the flood was in the history of mankind, and in spite of the wicked wandering hearts that are in the breasts of mankind to this very day, so bright is God’s plan of salvation. “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.

But Christ the heav’nly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name,
And richer blood than they.

My faith would lay her hand
On that dear head of Thine;
While like a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin.

My soul looks back to see
The burdens Thou didst bear,
When hanging on the cursèd tree,
And hopes her guilt was there.

Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse remove;
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice,
And sing His bleeding love. (Isaac Watts)