Jesus told a parable in which He described the kingdom of heaven as being “like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard” (Matthew 20:1-16). In this parable, the land owner went out at various times throughout the day – early in the morning, the third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour, and the eleventh hour. Each time, he found those who had not yet been called to work and invited them to labor in his vineyard.
At the end of the parable, when the workday was over, the land owner paid wages to each of the laborers. Starting with the last group and going to the first, every one was paid a denarius – the amount which had been promised to the ones hired at the beginning of the day. While this caused the first group who had worked all day to question the fairness of this, the landowner explained that they received what they were promised and that he was allowed to be generous with what was his own.
One important lesson that we should learn from this parable is that the Lord is willing to give to all who will come to Him the full reward that is promised to His followers. Even if one decides at the very end to give his life to the Lord and serve Him, he can receive the same reward. Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). As long as we have life in us, we can repent and turn to the Lord. He is “to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9), even if that obedience comes at the “eleventh hour.”
Rather than thinking that you cannot come to the Lord because of the years you have wasted, recognize and take advantage of the opportunity that has been afforded you by the grace and patience of God and make the decision to finally obey the Lord.
[This article was published in the September 2017 issue of Banner of the Cross]