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)

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