“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard….6 And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ …9 When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.”Matthew 20:1, 6-7
Last week, the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, we heard Jesus’ parable of the master in the vineyard. A quick recap: The master hires people at varying times in the day and then pays them all the same. This upsets those that were working the longest, but the master does not care because it’s his money and he chooses to be generous.
There are so many things going on in that parable, but for the sake of this moment, let us look at the people who were hired last. The master asks, “why are you standing here idle all day?” They reply, “Because no one has hired us.”
And then the master hires them. No more questions, no background check. The master just wants them in his vineyard knowing full well that he is going to give them an entire day’s pay for just an hour of work.
So often we see people standing idle, that is, not having or hearing the promise that the master has for us. I’d say that all of you reading this have likely been in the vineyard for some time. If you are new to the vineyard – the folds of Christianity, God’s flock – then welcome! We are glad you are here. But we tend to see the people standing idle and instead of hiring them to come and work, instead of telling them, “hey, come join us in the kingdom,” we look on and simply think, “they must not want to be working.”
We then play the role of the manager of the vineyard and decide who the master should hire. John Doe has never been to church, he probably wouldn’t be comfortable here with us. Or Jane Doe seems too busy, she probably doesn’t have time for God. Or how about this, “it’s so great when we have the church full of people, I wish it were always this full.”
We are called to invite all the people into the vineyard! We get in our own way so often trying to qualify who should receive the call. The master of the vineyard does not see the people sitting idle and think “you must not have been hired for a reason,” or “you are not great friends with a few of the others that I have already hired, I do not want you.”
God’s Word is for all those with ears to hear. Plus, it is His Word and He will do with it as He pleases. Therefore, let us be equipped with that Word and spread it boldly. If you are not comfortable giving the word of promise yourself, give an invitation to a place where the Word will get heard – worship, bible study, etc. Let us go without question to hire laborers for God’s vineyard. Our payment is safe, no one can take that away. Let us share the love, mercy, and forgiveness that God has given us with those who stand idle.
This is most certainly true.
Pastor Maxwell Whitehead