Monday, March 16th, 2015
Outsiders (Part 11)
Final Hour Salvations
The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.'
So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.' And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' But he answered one of them and said, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?' So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.
Matthew 20:1-16 (NKJV)
While God may know the final destiny of every soul on earth, He withholds it from us... deliberately. Perhaps He even withholds it from Himself, choosing not to regard it. After all, He is a God 'Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth' (1 Timothy 2:4); a God Who is patient toward us, 'Not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance' (2 Peter 3:9).
Why? 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live' (Ezekiel 33:11).
In The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, consider the men who worked eleven hours as lifelong believers, expecting an ample reward. Consider those who worked the final hour to be last-minute converts, excited for any reward.* They were happy to find meaningful employment.
Why didn't they find it sooner? Surely many reasons. But in this Parable God suggests that no one hired (witnessed or invited) them. Where? Into the Kingdom of God.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: when we think we've got people all figured out, we sin. Church insiders have made this mistake too often. Therefore, let us 'Go and sin no more' (John 8:11). Neither assume nor agree with presumptive judgments about final placement.
Only continue to go, hope, witness and invite outsiders inside--no matter the person, place or time. God is the original equal opportunity Employer.
To Be Continued...
* According to Luke, another final hour convert was the sinner on the cross next to Jesus: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+23%3A39-43&version=NKJV
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Outsiders series.