Written by clergy and lay people across our Diocesan community, ‘Sunday Devotions’ is a column of short reflections based on a Lectionary reading of the day, suitable for small group discussion or personal use.
Main Readings: Exodus 16.2-15; Psalm 105.1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1 or 1.21-30; Matthew 20.1-16; [Jonah 3.10-4.11; Psalm 145.1-8]
Supplementary Readings: Psalm 27; Matthew 19.13-22; Exodus 16.14-31; Psalm 145.14-21; Romans 15.7-13
“ ‘Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’ ” (Matthew 20.15-16)
Today’s Gospel reading reminds me of God’s ‘economy’ of grace and generosity. Quite often when this Gospel reading comes up in a worship service or in a home group, I hear the words: “That doesn’t seem fair!” Understandably, people often struggle with the idea that all of the labourers received the same daily wage, regardless of how long they had worked or when they had turned up to work. This leads to discussions about the nature of God’s mercy and grace.
What is the difference between mercy and grace? Mercy and grace are two vital Christian terms, the meaning of which are often misunderstood. In short, mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve, and grace is God giving us something we do not deserve. God gives his love, all of his love, to every person without exception. God’s love can never be earned – it is a gift offered to all.
The fact that the late arriving vineyard labourers only worked for one hour does not make their needs any less than those who did a full day’s work. How big is your need for God today?
‘Are you envious because I am generous?’ I let this question linger in my heart and ask for the grace to discern my gifts and limitations, as well of those around me. True love rejoices in the gifts others have.