There’s a story in the bible, a parable called the laborers in the vineyard. Jesus taught a lot of good stuff in the stories he told. The story is set in God’s economy –the kingdom of heaven, and not in terms related to work as we see it. The story is found in Matthew 20.
I see sovereign God pictured as the employer in the story –one who has absolute authority over his land and possessions, and authority in how he dispenses it. The story discloses the fact that the land owner needed to bring in the grapes. So he went out to find laborers. He found a group of workers eager to be hired around 6 a.m. He tells the workers he will pay them a day’s wages; he knows they need to eat and he knows they need to feed their families that day. Ah, what a picture of sovereign God providing our needs.
It tells us he went to the marketplace around 9 a.m. looking for more workers. Then he went back again at noon, and again at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. It seems he really needed to gather the grapes. The incredible part was his offer to pay each worker a full day’s wages. Think of that!
Let’s put this into today’s wage earnings using the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. That factors out to $87.00 for a 12 hour shift. …But doesn’t the parable say he paid each worker a day’s wage? Yup. –So the guys that worked one hour got the full payment of $87.00 just like the guys who worked all day long! That doesn’t seem right, does it?
Now remember this is a parable… a story illustrating an element of God’s character and told to illustrate a point. Jesus was good at making illustrated points.
Jealousy & unfairness surfaced among the workers at the end of the day. Why, I can almost hear their protests, “It’s not fair!” protested those who worked hard all day. Yeah, in a labor union this would be considered unfair. Hey, this would even seem unfair outside of a labor union! But we’re not talking labor unions here; we’re talking about God’s sovereign authority and the fact that he has the right to dispenses what he has as he pleases.
Now I want you to think of this story in terms of salvation: There are some who came to faith in Jesus at an early age. Some came in their twenties, thirties, forties or fifties. Then there are those who embraced faith in Jesus in their sixties, seventies, eighties, and perhaps some even later in life. The fact remains… we all receive the same forgiveness and grace, regardless when we embraced the gospel. That’s God’s sovereign kindness & generosity demonstrated to us just as the land owner acted in graciousness at the time of payout to the workers in the vineyard.
What really impacted me in the story is the land owner’s persistence to hire workers throughout the day. He really needed to gather the grapes! We see that characteristic in direct relationship to our mobilization efforts in missions. There is a harvest of souls to be gathered from among unreached people needing to hear the gospel. We’re working to see God raise up those who will go reap the harvest. You see, we’re not ‘there’ anymore due to Joyce’s need for a kidney. …And although she needed a transplant, we don’t see that as the reason why we are not serving abroad; we see God in the details of ministry experience among the unreached as a qualifier to advocate the need for laborers from among churches, colleges, in homes, and wherever God desires to stir the hearts of His people to DO SOMETHING.
Will you continue praying for us as we partner with churches and individuals to raise awareness in filling the many roles of ministry to advance the gospel in areas of the world where people don’t know Jesus? Apart from church planters, bible teachers and translators, we need network developers, pilots, plumbers, school teachers, medical personnel, administrative assistants, accountants, mechanics, consultants, an attorney… and the list goes on. There are hundreds of positions to fill in the effort of declaring Christ to the lost. Please contact us if you are interested in serving. We can guide you where you can get the training you will need to serve cross-culturally.