No Little People, No Minor Tasks

We are so used to judging things by the world’s standards that it is nearly impossible to process Jesus’ saying, “Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (Matthew 19:30).

The concept is so outrageous and counter-intuitive that Jesus gives a parable to emphasize the point that God’s way of ruling and rewarding is all about grace and not talent, works, status, or accomplishments.

I’ll let you look up and read the parable itself (Matthew 20:1-15), but the story is about a landowner who pays the same wage to all of the workers, regardless of whether they worked a full day or only an hour. This practice prompts grumbling from those who worked the longest and hardest, but their grievance is countered by three questions:

Didn’t you agree with the wages offered?
Isn’t this my money (and my vineyard)?
Are you envious because I am generous?

All three questions strike at the root of our pride. We are creatures who come into the world with nothing, and yet we are eaten alive by our own envy when someone else has more.

There are many lessons and applications here, but one we may overlook is that God delights to bless the insignificant and reward the ignored. The Apostle Paul puts it like this (1 Corinthians 1:28) in warning the prideful, “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify things that are. . .”

To bring it home, this helps us see how God may view the poor, disadvantaged, disabled, and special needs people we see (or choose to ignore) around us. People with bad manners, few social skills, and little education. People who do menial tasks, such as those who earn minimum wage cleaning the offices of well-connected, stock-optioned CEO’s.

Paul adds the reason for all this: “that no flesh may boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:29).

We just need to keep in mind that God looks on the heart, not appearances, and grants grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:4), not the proud. So perhaps we should not be surprised in the New Heavens and New Earth, if we end up working for someone who worked for us.

“Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:14

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