Be Zealous, Not Jealous (Matthew 20)

by Aug 7, 2022

“Donʻt I have the right to do what I want with what is mine? Are you jealous because Iʻm generous?” (Matthew 20:15)

The main parable discussed in this chapter is about a wealthy landowner who calls outsiders into his vineyard to work. He calls them in at different times, yet pays them the same amount, which creates complaints from those who have been laboring the longest. “Those people didnʻt work as hard!” “We had to endure the sun!” “Weʻve known you longer!” “We are the most loyal!”

The parable is speaking to Israel and the Church – for those who knew God the longest (Israel) or who come to know Jesus at a young age – and you can see why they might argue. We all want “fairness.” Kids fight about not being given the same amount of snacks, unions were created to help ensure people are paid consistently, and protests start over equal justice under the law. But the motivation for complaining is focused on the wrong thing – a reward vs the original punishment.

Romans 3:23 tells us that everyone sins and is deserving of eternal death. Psalm 142:2-3 tells how everyone turns away from God and there is no one who always does good. Even one sin, one small discretion, one mean motivation, or jealous judgement makes anyone imperfect. Sin disqualifies us from Heaven and condemns us to eternal punishment in Hell. Only Jesus is perfect and if we accept His sacrifice for us and trust in Him to save us, God doesnʻt look at our sin, but credits Jesus’ righteousness to our account.

Have you ever been frustrated to see someone get ahead? Jealous for what you think you deserve? When it comes to Christianity, we should be zealous and excited to share what Jesus did for us. Donʻt be stingy with grace – God has more than enough for everyone – young people, older people, folks who have opposed God in the past, and folks who may have never heard. Death row salvation? Hallelujah! Your 3rd grade bully? Awesome! A family member who you would never imagine asking for grace? Praise God for his goodness and patience and that He can forgive where we struggle. If jealousy enters your thoughts about someone being saved, stop and remember what grace Heʻs given each of us.