JESUS EXPLAINS HEAVEN’S ECONOMY

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In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us a parable of the world’s worst employer. In fact, if this employer were to be operating today, the company would be facing so many civil suits from its employees, it’s no longer funny. So if you have people in your employ, please learn from this lesson. Let us see what He said.

“God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work.
Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.
He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?’
They said, ‘Because no one hired us.’
He told them to go to work in his vineyard.
When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.’
Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’
He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’” Matthew 20:1-15 [MSG]

What a tough task master God is. How can He pay the same for less? Who would want to work for Him then? Vineyard Workers’ Union should be up in arms for this. And in the end, He holds the contract He conned the workers into signing against them? This is a travesty!

Most of us think like that, do we not? First in should get more and last in, well, too bad for you. But beloved, that is because we have been looking at Jesus and Heaven’s economy through the wrong lens. There is another parable that has the servant of the house going out and looking for people to invite as well. Perhaps that will shed more light on the meaning behind this parable.

“Jesus followed up. “Yes. For there was once a man who threw a great dinner party and invited many. When it was time for dinner, he sent out his servant to the invited guests, saying, ‘Come on in; the food’s on the table.’
Then they all began to beg off, one after another making excuses. The first said, ‘I bought a piece of property and need to look it over. Send my regrets.’
Another said, ‘I just bought five teams of oxen, and I really need to check them out. Send my regrets.’
And yet another said, ‘I just got married and need to get home to my wife.’
The servant went back and told the master what had happened. He was outraged and told the servant, ‘Quickly, get out into the city streets and alleys. Collect all who look like they need a square meal, all the misfits and homeless and wretched you can lay your hands on, and bring them here.’
The servant reported back, ‘Master, I did what you commanded—and there’s still room.’
The master said, ‘Then go to the country roads. Whoever you find, drag them in. I want my house full! Let me tell you, not one of those originally invited is going to get so much as a bite at my dinner party.’” Luke 14:15-24 [MSG]

Hopefully it is becoming clear to you that we misunderstand the parable of the vineyard workers because we have quite a few misconceptions about how our Father operates. Let us see what they are and how Jesus would like us to change the way we view Heaven’s economy.

The first misconception we have is that our Father’s call is going to cost us something. We think that when Jesus calls, He is going to take us away from the good that we already have, to a place where we have to toil for Him for a pittance. But beloved, that is wrong.

In both parables, our Father was actively searching for people to come into His abode so that He can provide for them. Notice that in the parable of the workers, He did not hire those who were already employed, but only those who were unemployed? Similarly, in the parable of the wedding feast, He sent for all who looked like they needed a meal, the misfits, the homeless, the wretched. So in the same way, when Jesus calls, He is not pulling you away from something good to deprive you of it. Instead, He is trying to take you from a place where you had nothing, to a place where He can give you everything.

The next misconception is that God is merely out to exploit us. Like a shrewd businessman, He maximizes profits by minimizing cost through the reduction of wages; and from the parable, it certainly seems like it, does it not? But again, that notion is wrong.

Notice that the agreement was set based on the wage for the day and not on the work that was expected? This shows us that Jesus is not at all concerned about what you can do for Him. He is focused more on what He can do for you. There is no mention of how much hard labor the workers actually did; only the mention of a complaint from a few workers who valued their work more than that of another. Did they actually ‘slave all day under the scorching sun’? Or did they occasionally steal a catnap under a shady tree? We will never know, will we?

The next misconception is over the definition of ‘work’. We often deem ‘work’ to be strenuous labor. No pain, no gain. If it does not tire us, it is not work. After all, it was Marc Anthony who said, “If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.” So working for God must be tough labor, right? Again, that is wrong.

“Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:28-29

Should you read the Bible? Of course. Should you pray every day? More than once, if you can. Should you evangelize and share the Good News of Jesus and His love for them with others? Every chance you get. Then are these not also the ‘works’ of God?

No. Jesus is very clear. The work of God is to believe in Jesus. So why do the rest? You do these things so that you can be reminded of just how much Jesus loves you and by so doing, it enables you do to your real ‘work’ of believing in Jesus and His promises. When we read the Bible, we read of times when our Father was there for His people and we can take comfort that because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), His love, protection and provision for us is the same yesterday, today and forever. And that helps us believe in Him. When we pray, we allow our Father to speak to us and with us, guiding us and showing us how real He is in our lives and that helps us believe in Him. When we share the Good News with others, we allow Jesus and the Holy Spirit to speak through us and also remind us of how good our Father has been to us and that helps us believe in Him,

“for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of the Father who speaks in you.” Matthew 10:20

So all those things that we deemed as work are actually just enablers, things that enable us to do better the real work that we are called to do, to enable us to believe more sincerely. And if we think that the evangelism, the Bible reading, the praying are, in and of themselves, works for God, then we are saying that the work of a cab driver is to wash his cab, or the work of a chef is to wash the dishes. We are sadly mistaken and we have missed the point. For the apostle Paul reminds us,

“For he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors peculiarly His own.
Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell].” Hebrews 4:10-11 [AMPC]

Our Father wants to rest us. Not work us to the bone. We are instead to strive to enter His rest, God’s rest; not toil to please God. For by what kind of unbelief and disobedience did those in the wilderness fall?

“Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” Exodus 19:8

“All the people spoke at the same time and said, “We will obey everything the Lord says.” Exodus 19:8[GW]

They thought that they could do and obey ALL that the Lord has spoken; when all that our Father really wanted was for us to believe in Jesus and depend on Him.

So why then do we have such misconceptions? That is because we measure God in the economy of the world and not by His economy. Just like the father told the elder brother of the prodigal son, who thought that all his father wanted was for him to slave his life away for his father’s benefit, our Father is saying to us,

“Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours” Luke 15:29-31 [MSG]

We feel injustice because we see our Father’s supply as finite and we forget to ask. Remember that He did say,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-11

So ask Him. He told us to.

Beloved, Our Father is Father to everyone who believes. For the apostle John tells us,

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13

Just as parents try and love all their children equally, more so does our Father love all His children equally and gives His gifts of salvation, protection and provision freely and equally to all who would believe.

Let us not measure our Father’s love for us through the lens of our economy but instead rejoice with our brothers who freely receive because we ourselves have freely received from our loving Father; and there is infinitely more where that came from.

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