Are you ever jealous of those last-minute-deathbed-decision believers? They lived their life however they pleased and then made a decision at the end. Hold your hands up. How many ever feel jealous of them? They had Sundays to themselves. They didn’t have to take time away for mission trips, ministry projects, or work days at the church. They didn’t have to find time to read and communicate with God. They had more family time. They could manicure their lawn. 3 day weekends were 3 days off. Ever grow jealous?
Jesus speaks to his followers about the Kingdom of Heaven quite a bit. In Matthew 20, he tells the parable (a story that has spiritual meaning). A vineyard owner needs workers. He goes out at 6am and negotiates a wage and hires whomever is there. He goes out at 9, 12, and 5pm and makes the same deal. At 6pm the workers gather for their daily wage. He begins with those hired last and gives them their wage. The 6am crowd are drooling over this because they assume that the owner will pay more even though they agreed for the same wage. The owner surprises them and gives the same amount to all who worked.They argue about the unfair policy to which the owner referred to what had been negotiated.
I believe we all would cry foul at this practice. We argue loudly when the government wants to spread the wealth. We argue when people who don’t care to work seem to acquire more than those who do work. We are mad! How can someone who does not work, or even try to find a job, get equal treatment? We feel this injustice. We fight over this imbalance. We are jealous that we work all day and someone else does not. We mask it in politics and policies discussion. Yet, it is simply jealousy. We are jealous that we work hard for our money and someone who does not gets paid decently through other means.
Now we are faced with a problem. This jealousy does not stay only in the financial arena. This jealousy expands into the spiritual arena. We who have given our lives to Jesus and strive diligently to follow Him everyday grow weary. We see someone who has lived their life apart from God come to Jesus at the last-minute and we feel anger, resentment, jealousy like those in the story. We see youth party hard through school and college. In their 20’s they turn their life over and we who were “good” wonder why we ever worried.
Before we go and instruct our children to live it up and get saved later, please consider something. Those who went to work at 6 or 9 did not have to worry about whether they would find a job or get paid. They had a peace and security the others did not. Those who went at 12 had waited with anxiety all morning hoping they would get something. Those who went to work at 5pm had all day to fret and worry. Meanwhile, the “good ones” who worked all day looked forward to the end knowing they would receive payment. They worked hard knowing the pay was coming. They were secure. In fact, they may have thought about how good their day was compared to those poor saps who had no job.
Before we grow jealous of the party crowd, consider the peace and security you have knowing Heaven awaits you because of your faith in Christ. Consider how those without this security and hope must feel. Sure, it seems they have more fun, more family time, and perfectly manicured lawn. They sleep in. They get mani-pedis and movies on Sunday. They do not have hope. They do not have real peace. They do not have joy. You who went to “work” early do. Embrace this peace and joy. Enjoy the hope and security.
Your life in Christ all these years has provided you with far more than having those years without Him.
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10