God's Grace vs. Work Ethic

I listen to and read stories as a way to help me understand the world around me. A story that is most useful to me is one that intentionally describes a situation that will open up my mind to a foundational truth that God wants to me to know.

A parable is just that kind of tale. It is an invented story, possibly with some realistic elements in it. Parables are meant to convey important spiritual truths. A parable normally lifts up a comparison between two central points but concentrating on one that is a prime truth. This story is meant to tell the readers something important about the nature of the heavenly homeland by using a story. A parable is different than an allegory in that an allegory uses each character in it to symbolically represent deeper moral and spiritual ideals. Parables, on the other hand, mostly drive home one central broad-based point rather than conveying several facets of one particular truth. I am considering the concept of service and reward and how God’s unmerited grace fits into that concept. I believe God views service and reward differently from the human conception of service and reward.

In this country, we have a strong belief in the work ethic as foundational to our concept of service or work and rewards or benefits. It holds that hard work produces healthy benefits and strong character. Furthermore, without a strong work ethic, we as a nation would never have achieved as much in such a short amount of time as a world power. Now, how does God’s grace fit into that concept?

In the Bible book of Matthew 20:1-16, Matthew gives an account of Jesus telling a parable about service and reward. It was a continuation of a larger response to his teachings initiated in Matthew 19, where in verse 27, another disciple named Peter said to Jesus, “Look we have left everything and followed you, what then will we have?” After an explanation of the end times as the renewal of all things, and his position seated on the throne of glory, Jesus said there will be a divine rewarding of all those who followed him. Finally, in verse 30 saying, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

Behind that statement, Jesus then lays out that same concept by way of the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard to further drive home that point by describing how service and reward are dealt with through grace under God’s domain. It is a concept that we all need to learn anew today.

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