In God’s Labor Market - First and Last Hires Will Be Paid the Same
“And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
In Matthew 20:1-16, we look in on a parable in which a landowner went about seeking laborers for his vineyard. First we notice that the landowner went out early in the morning to look for laborers (first hires). He then negotiated the price of the labor with the first hires for a denarius a day. The bible refers to the denarius as a day's wage for a common laborer (Matthew 20:2).
Then the owner realized that the job was too big for only the first hires. So, he went out at the third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hour and saw others (last hires) idly standing in the marketplace and sent them into the same vineyard. However, this time there was no mention upfront of a specific wage for their labor. He asked the last hires to go do the same work and he would give them whatever is right.
Then in verse 8, the laborers are gathered and paid in reverse of order hired (last and then the first). In the end, it didn’t matter if the laborer was the first or the last hired, the end pay was the same (v.9). Those that were first hires were understandably upset that the last hires were paid the same wage. After all, they labored all day in the heat of the day and carried the special title “laborer”, unlike the “idle others” who were just standing around and by chance got picked up.
Today, you might feel like you’re starting out as a last hire (new convert, a common laborer life calling, etc.) in your work for God’s Kingdom and in direct competition with the first hires (those who have been busy in God’s kingdom work for most of their lives or hold a special title). Likewise, as a first hire, you may feel envious of those who have just started out on their labor (last hires) for Christ and seem to be getting a “first hire” reward.
However, remember that in God’s labor market, the reward for Kingdom work is not on a competitive pay scale. In Colossians 3:23-24, God assures us that when we accept His offer to labor for His Kingdom, it will not matter if we have labored from the first hour or the eleventh hour, He will reward us according to His spiritual pay scale not the order of hire.
Remember God promises you His reward of inheritance for your labor- the first hire and the second hire will all be paid a laborer’s reward.