God Gives What He Promises - A Meditation on Matthew 20:1-16

Rev. Eric Brown

God gives what He promises, and He gives generously. That's the major theme of the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. The owner of the vineyard keeps his generous promises. When he finds the day workers, he doesn't low-ball them. Instead it's come and I'll pay you a denarius—a good and solid wage. In fact, that's what he gives everyone who works, even those who only work an hour. He's generous. You could have a decent life earning a denarius a day. The only problem in the whole story is when people think that the master owes them more than he has promised. Then they pout and grouse and, as a result, even their good wage turns sour.

This is the danger for us. We know the promises of God. He's promised life and salvation in Christ. He's said that He will give us our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses, lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil. The problem comes when we think we deserve more or when we think God owes us more. Daily bread isn't enough—I want better and more bread. I want neighbors who are less annoying so I don't have to forgive them as often. I shouldn't have struggles and trials at all in this world. And why? Because I'm a good little Christian. See all my good deeds?

Whenever we focus on what our sinful flesh tells us we deserve, we miss the point. We forget that everything is a generous gift from God—one that we do not deserve. He gives us our daily bread, even though we are sinners and the proper wages for sin is death. Instead of death, He gives the forgiveness that Christ has won and makes our lives to be ones of forgiveness as well. These are mind-blowing gifts of body and soul. They are Christ's own victory over temptation and evil, and they are richly given to you by Christ over and over in His Word.

Your sinful flesh will try to tell you that all its wants are things that you really deserve, but your flesh is foolish, and it doesn't call the shots. Rather, remember all that Christ Jesus gives you freely by grace, and delight in them because He really is generous to you, and He keeps His Word.

Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois.

Created: February 8th, 2017