“So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” (
God judges us for our deeds. The sinner will be judged for his or her evil deeds. The list of their crimes will be read in the High Court of Heaven before they are sentenced to hell (
Rev.20:12). The saint will be judged for his or her
righteous works in view of receiving their reward in heaven ( 1 Cor.3:11-15). God will not only judge us as to what we do,
but for why we do it. Motives matter to
God. The right thing done for the wrong
reason is still wrong. Jesus warned that
to give, pray, or fast to impress people was to be rewarded only with human
approval ( Matt.6:1-18),
and to miss heaven’s applause. We might
suppose that such religious acts would be see by God as, “gold, silver, precious stones,” yet, because the motive is
self-centered and not God-honoring, temporal in its end and not eternal, then
such will prove to be, “wood, hay,
straw,” to go up in smoke in the fire of Christ’s scrutiny. Motives matter.
That is the thrust of the parable Jesus presents in
20:1-16. It is sandwiched
between this point: “But many who are
first will be last, and the last first. …” (19:30) and “So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” (20:16) The context of the teaching is in response to
Christ’s call to sacrificial service (19:23-29). Peter has popped off—as he was prone to do—“See, we have left all and followed
You. Therefore what shall we have?” (19:27). Jesus tells that their labor and
loss for His sake will be rewarded (19:18-29), but that an additional test
beyond the manner of service is the motive of service.
1) GOD SEEKS SERVANTS (v.1). God is God. Therefore, he needs no one or nothing other than Himself. He is self-sufficient and self-existing. In His amazing grace and infinite knowledge, He has chosen, however, to employ frail creatures of flesh to partner with Him in His work. Many are called, but few chosen—have you responded to His call?
2) SOME WORK AS AN OBLIGATION (v.2). These were contract laborers. They were motivated by what they would receive—and that alone. There is no hint of grace or love, just “punching the clock,” in order to collect the pay. If we are not careful, duty becomes drudgery—and God knows our motive. As concerning His service is it, “I’ve got to,” or “I get to”?
3) OTHERS WOULD WORK IF ASKED (v.3-6). Some are idle because they are indolent. These are idle because they were yet to be invited. They respond eagerly to the offer. How many people do we have in church life, ready to serve, if only asked?
4) THERE IS A WORK OF FAITH (v.4-7). No contract was negotiated—they simply trusted the Landowner to do the right thing. Faith is crucial not only in salvation, but in service. Read
Hebrews 11 concerning the works
accomplished by faith. Supernatural
possibilities exist when reliance on God is manifest, and will be rewarded ( Heb.11:6).
5) GOD DISPENSES REWARDS ACCORDING TO HIS SOVEREIGNTY (v.8-16). We will have no ground of complaint at the Judgment Seat. We will know He does right. Let us not complain now! Just do the right thing with the right motive and God will reward someday.