Worker Grievances
Matthew 20: 1-16

1 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2
He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work. 3 “At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing
through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. 4 So he hired them, telling them he would
pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. 5So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three
o’clock he did the same thing. 6 “At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing
around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’ 7 “They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’ “The
landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’ 8 “That evening he told the foreman to call the
workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. 9 When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each
received a full day’s wage. 10 When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But
they, too, were paid a day’s wage. 11 When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, 12 ‘Those people worked
only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’ 13 “He
answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? 14 Take your
money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. 15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my
money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’ 16 “So those who are last now will be first then, and those
who are first will be last.”
Does this story bother you a little bit, just not seem right, not fair? Do you have a justice/fairness bent? Is this a little
hard for you?
QUESTION: What do you do with your spare time? Overdo it then crash. Favorite TV shows. Constant search for
entertainment. Smart TVs – So many options now it’s confusing. Every sports event. Used to get 1 or 2 Razorback games
a year.
1) How much time have you wasted? How much time have you misused? How many years do you most likely
have left? There’s good news for you.
Theme 1 – Gospel News! Good News! Your life is not a waste, even if you start following Jesus now, no matter your
age. It’s never too late.
QUESTION: How many times do we hear children say,” that’s not fair?” What’s it usually about? Anything and
Our granddaughter – all our teacher does is make us do worksheets. She doesn’t even say “good morning” to us.
2) How fair is the world in general? (place of birth, opportunities, etc.)
Very unfair. Dangerous countries. Poor countries – rich countries. Lots of resources – no resources.
The latest generation in the US to enter the workforce is really mad because life is harder than they thought, opportunities
are fewer than they thought. Why? They all got a participation trophy.
Theme 2 – Gospel News! Good News! God is not “fair.”

3) How much did every worker get paid and when did each group of workers start to work?
Denarius. Day’s wage. 9am – noon – 5pm.
-Is this a good way to run a business? No. Why? Beyond description, just wrong.
-What could the owner have done to pay everyone the same and “keep the peace?” Paid in order they came they work and
sent them away before paying the next group.
This story is not about how to run a business. Jesus is telling us something about God.
SLIDE Gospel News! Good News! Your life is not a waste, even if you start following Jesus now, no matter your
age. It’s never too late.
God calls a man who is eighty to take a nation and lead them to a promised land. Who? Moses
God calls a man who is one-hundred and gives him and his ninety-year-old wife a son. Who? Abraham
God calls a man who is five-hundred years old to build a boat—a boat that won’t be finished for one-hundred and twenty
years. Who? Noah
God also used young people like David.
Age or stage of life doesn’t seem to matter too much to God. The people of Old Testament – we often breeze over the
years they lived that weren’t part of their story we know about – and we breeze over many of their failures. And they had
many failures.
Your life is not a waste, even if you start following Jesus now, no matter your age. It’s never too late.
Ezekiel 37:11 states, “Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our
bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’’”
You feel this way. I know I have. You might feel as if your time is up, that you are little more than a collection of dried
bones with no life left to give. Or you might think that the hope of accomplishing any goal for a purposeful life or living
for the Lord has vanished. You might even believe God Himself has abandoned you and that you are cut off from any
chance of opportunity.
You need to read verse 12: “Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your
graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel.”
God can and does work restoration for His people. You might think that death is the final loss of opportunity—except
for Lazarus, Tabitha, all those who escaped their graves at the death of the Lord Jesus, a young man who fell out a
window when Paul was preaching, and the list goes on. Not even death can thwart the plans that God has for His people.
Again – Josiah became a king at the age of eight, and Moses didn’t start his ministry until the spry age of eighty. Time is
not the deciding factor when it comes to serving the Lord.
Your call to serve the Lord can start with this moment. It has the potential to reach far beyond you.
Choices -live in self-doubt or lay claim to your calling from God.
Don’t dwell on how much time has passed, focus on how much time is left and use it for the glory of the Lord.
How does this work? God will place a burden placed in your heart. He plans things. We have to be open and ready.
And he trains us, sometimes through the school of life! Your experiences can be made in to something valuable!
Your life is not a waste, even if you start following Jesus now, no matter your age. It’s never too late.

Philip. 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are
behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call
of God in Christ Jesus.
-Paul is saying don’t let your defeats, defeat you.
-Your past is past; it’s water under the bridge. You can’t change it. Focus on the future.
-It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, what counts is where you’re going.
Peter denied the Lord three times; the rooster crowed just as Jesus said it would and Peter “wept bitterly”. Imagine how
Peter must have felt…like a complete failure; I’m sure he probably wondered how the Lord could ever him again. He felt
genuine remorse and godly sorrow. But in the end, he stopped regretting and he repented. He changed, and the man who
denied the Lord three times was the same man Jesus used 40 days later to preach and 3,000 people were saved.
Your life AND YOUR FAILURES are not a waste, even if you start following Jesus now, no matter your age. It’s
never too late.
4) Take this story and put it into today. You started to work with the early group. You saw everyone get paid.
Was it fair? How do you feel?
QUESTION: If you took a personality test, how high would justice and fairness rank? Some of us rank high. It’s hard
for us to see things that appear unfair. We can get “worked up” about it. (I think it’s extremely rude for people to break
in line.)
So, what do we do with this story and fairness? Remember it’s a story to make a point.
SLIDE Gospel News! Good News! God is not “fair.”
1) God loves to be generous and he loves to give to people who don’t deserve it.
2) God wants us to wrestle with this and celebrate his generosity rather than getting angry. He wants us to see it.
3) The Kingdom of God isn’t fair. It’s incredibly benevolent and generous. Unfair in a wonderful way. What God
is like, what heaven is like.
Will you like heaven if it’s unfair like this? Elder brother? Or, heaven’s not fair and you love it.
Peter escorts you in and “those people” come in and get a better seat than you. And you love it.
4) Brace yourself, It is and will be this way for people we think don’t deserve it.
EXAMPLE – Keith Smith 2014 Christmas party – everyone got a Christmas bonus $1,000, some 1 st day at work, nobody
thought it was unfair, everybody was happy.
END: This lesson means a lot to me.
First: My life is not a waste, even if I’m ordained at 63.
Second: I experienced radical generosity at my job and so I get this parable. God isn’t “fair” and neither was Jim
Smith that day.