The Fairness of Our Future Judgment

Another parable Jesus told illustrates the perfect fairness of our future judgment:

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; and to those he said, “You too go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.” And so they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing; and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day long?” They said to him, “Because no one hired us.” He said to them, “You too go into the vineyard.” And when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, “Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.” And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. And when those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; and they also received each one a denarius. And when they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, saying, “These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.” But he answered and said to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?” Thus the last shall be first, and the first last (Matt. 20:1-16).

Jesus was not teaching in this parable that all of God’s servants will receive the same reward in the end, as that would not only be unfair, but would also contradict many other scriptures (see, for example, Luke 19:12-27; 1 Cor. 3:8).

Rather, Jesus was teaching that each of God’s servants will be rewarded, not only on the basis on what they did for Him, but on the basis of how much opportunity He gave them. The one-hour workers in the Christ’s parable would have worked all day had the landowner given them the opportunity. So theose who made the most of their one-hour opportunity were rewarded equally with those who were given the opportunity to work all day.

So, too, God gives different opportunities to each of His servants. To some He gives great opportunities to serve and bless thousands of people using the amazing gifts He has given them. To others He gives lesser opportunities and gifts, yet they can receive the same reward in the end if they are equally as faithful with what God has given them.[1]

[1] This parable also does not teach that those who repent at a young age and faithfully labor for many years will be rewarded the same as those who repent during the last year of their life and faithfully serve God only one year. That would be unfair, and would not be based on the opportunity that God gave each one, as God gave each one opportunity to repent all through their lives. Thus those who labor longer will receive more reward than those who labor for less time.