“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ ………” Matthew 20:8-12 NIV
We would be wise to remind ourselves that everything we have is a gift from God. Ingratitude produces in us arrogance and self centeredness which makes us focus on the wrongs in our lives, rather than the blessings. If we give place to this ungrateful attitude, it won’t be long before bitterness, and anger become our constant companions. We will be blaming God for what we think is lacking, all the while He is providing the very things we have been seeking. What we once had seen as a reason to be grateful will become our expression of ingratitude, especially if someone else seems to be given an easier road, we will complain.
In this parable, we have an example of this. All of these workers needed employment. Each of them were given an opportunity for work at different times. Those who began the day very likely were happy to be able to have their need supplied. This work was an answer to their prayer. Now they could provide for their families. However, as the day goes on, and others are brought in and given the same opportunity with less effort, attitudes turn sour, and what earlier was seen as a gift, now becomes a bone of contention.
The interesting thing is that their gift and reason to be grateful did not change. Their needs were being met. But their perspective and attitude did change, based upon what someone else received. Is this really the way we should be evaluating our reasons to be grateful?
You see, the landowner offered them life, and provision. A reason to give thanks. At the end of the day, life and provision were still made available. The grumbling and ungrateful heart is exposed.
What is at the root of this? A sense of entitlement. They had forgotten that this work was their miracle. They had forgotten this day’s work meant that they could eat. They became discontent with what they had and grumbled because they did not get more. We see this over and over again in the children of Israel, and then in our own hearts.
We have every reason to be grateful. God is good, we have more than we need. We are part of an unshakeable Kingdom in an hour where everything is being shaken. Yet, the more we have as a people and as a society, the less we are thankful. Could it be that we have embraced this entitlement attitude? I dare say that this ungratefulness is really sin and as long as we give place for it in our lives we will continue to miss all the good that God is doing around us. Gratitude is not something we pick up when we feel like it, it is a choice. It is seeing life through an eternal lens and not a carnal one.
Grateful people focus on the blessings rather than the perceived injustices. They see God, not what the flesh would seek after. Knowing that He is truly the Lifegiver.
Today I am grateful that He isn’t fair. If He only dealt with me according to fairness, I could not know Him. I am grateful for His exposing the incorrect sense of entitlement both in my life and in His church. I know that as He exposes, He gives us opportunity to return to Him and find life. I am blessed today and thankful that He addresses my murmurings and calls them what they are, sin. His lovingkindness, leads us to repentance. He is a good God. I am grateful He calls me His own.