10th June 2019

The Last Shall Be First

“Friend, I am doing you no wrong…is your eye evil because I am good? So the last will be first and the first last.”
Matthew 20:13-16 (NKJV)

In the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), the workers who worked longest and hardest grumble that they are made equal to those hired at the end who did little. This in human eyes seems very unfair, but if we translate that to the grace of God in giving salvation to all who come to him, as in verse 14, “I wish to give to this last man the same as to you,” we understand that God wants all to come to repentance and desires that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9).

Still, we may begrudge the ‘deathbed’ repentance of those who come to faith after a life of greed and deceit, who got rich by scams and trickery. Even Psalm 73:3 says “For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” But further on in verses 16-17 it says, “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful me—until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.” Does this mean they get their ‘just desserts’? I think that it shows we reap what we sow. Sin is not sin arbitrarily but because it yields harm to one’s character. It sometimes has unwelcome physical consequences, but sometimes not. Yes, the thief may obtain riches, but the sin (theft) will have detrimental consequences upon the inner character, and there will be hurtful phychological, mental, emotional and spiritual consequences.

In Matthew 19:27 Peter asked, “we have left all and followed you. Therefore what shall we have?” Jesus did not just say they would have eternal life, but listed blessings from following him—brothers and sisters in Christ, future job opportunities, and in the end, eternal life. One cannot earn eternal life, but living the Christian life yields blessings: psychological, emotional, mental and spiritual blessings. Often there are also physical blessings, although these are not guaranteed and sometimes the greater blessing can be lack of these. However, we can be assured that all things happen for the good to those who love God, and he knows best what we need to bring us to eternal life (Romans 8:28).

There are Christians who go through severe trials of health, unemployment, persecution, even torture and death because of their faith, and there are those who sail through in comfort or come to faith on their deathbed; but God loves everyone and extends grace to all, the first and the last.

Prayer
Merciful and gracious Father in Heaven, help us not to be envious of those who are blessed but to always look to you in faith that you know what is best for each of us. Help us to follow you with all our heart and mind and strength, and rejoice with those who rejoice.
Amen

Study by Nancy Silcox
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About the Author:
Nancy Silcox attends the Watford Congregation of Grace Communion International in the UK. Nancy prepares and uploads the Day by Day studies submitted by members of the Worldwide Church of God UK/Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Gracecom Watford
St. Peter’s Church
61 Westfield Avenue
Watford, Herts.
WD24 7HF

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11AM

Local Congregational Contact:
George Henderson
Phone: 01923-855570
Email: george.sueann.henderson49@gmail.com

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