September 20

Matthew 20:1-16

It’s great to be given a gift, isn’t it? Or is it? What if it’s a puppy and you’re not ready for the food and vet bills, the exercising and training that goes with owning a dog? And the receiver is placed under obligation to the giver, for example: you receive a gift and then feel the need to reciprocate in some way. We know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. There’s an uneven power balance between giver and receiver. The choice lies with the giver. Even if hints are given, the receiver has to accept what someone else has chosen.

Maybe that is why people have trouble with the grace of God. They have to accept that they are not in charge; they have to accept whatever they are given. They are under obligation to use the gift of life, and all other gifts, properly. If salvation is by grace, then it is not to be looked upon as a reward for services rendered.

In the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, Jesus made it clear that life at its best, life lived in the love and grace of God, is a gift. Heaven is not a reward for services rendered; it is a gift. People who approach it in terms of wages will be disappointed. Instead of trying to win heaven as a reward in the future, let’s live the life of heaven now, as far as it is possible, with gratitude and joy. Enjoy the gift of life; enjoy the gift of new life in Christ.

  • Think of examples of the power imbalance between giver and receiver. When has receiving a gift placed you under an obligation to the giver?
  • List some of the gifts have you received from God.
  • If salvation is a gift, why do people think that they have to earn it?
  • How can we best show our appreciation for God’s gift of new life in Christ?