It takes a lot of wisdom, energy and time to run your own business. It certainly is not for the faint of heart as you have to sacrifice almost everything to keep it afloat. As it grows and you have to hire on staff you soon discover that the real strength of your business is found in the people you have hired. The right staff can cause your business to soar, whereas the wrong staff can cause it to flop. As a business owner you soon understand, the more you look after your staff the better things will go for your business. The last thing you would want to do is adopt God's attitude as a business principle.
Jesus had just finished dealing with the rich young man and had to deal with his disciples who suddenly wanted to know what was in this whole thing for them. He explained to them that the reward they would receive would far surpass anything they gave up here. But he also warned them that the Kingdom works on different principles than this earth does; that the first will be last and the last will be first. To make his point he told the parable of the landowner who hired some people to work his land. The full parable is found in Matthew 20.
In this parable the landowner went out and hired some people first thing in the morning at a certain wage. They agreed to work for that wage. Then he hired some more people at noon and then another group with only a short time left in the working day. When it came time to be paid the first group noticed that the last group was paid a certain amount so they figured they would be paid more, even though they had already agreed on the amount of their wage. It only made sense, they had worked the longest, probably twelve hours compared to the last group who worked 1 hour. However, when it was their turn to receive their wages they received the same amount. Of course they complained; we would as well. But the landowner's reply was simple: "It's my money, I'll do what I want with it. If I want to be generous what's that to you?" Jesus ended it again with, "The first will be last and the last will be first".
Obviously this would never fly as a business model because the principles of the Kingdom are far higher than greedy principles of this world. This is the reason we can often find God to be unfair because he does not deal with us as the world deals with us and that is a very good thing. Because of this we have salvation by grace, we have received his mercy and we possess his great blessings without having earned it. But this also means there is no one greater than anyone else in the Kingdom. Everyone who loves and obeys God are cherished and loved by God. We receive the same blessings regardless whether we started serving five minutes ago or 50 years ago. This may seem simple to you or it may seem highly unfair to you, depending on where you are in your relationship with God.
Jesus told the parable of the son who took his inheritance and left home. He lost that wealth on unwise living and he worried his father. He repented and returned home, prepared to be a servant in his father's house. Of course they father would not hear of it, welcomed him home as his returning son stating that the lost had been found. However, this son had an older brother who was a responsible man. He stayed by his father's side, faithfully working the family business, never giving his father a day's grief. When he saw the extravagance of his father over this "lowlife" son he became bitter and angry. The older son did not see his little brothers as equal to him any more and saw himself as the better son. Yet, the father could only see them both as his sons and loved them equally.
This is very important for us to understand and accept. There is no "lesser" and "greater" in our Father's eyes. His love is extravagant. His generosity has no limits. His forgiveness has no end. It does not matter to him if we are newly adopted or have been part of the family for 50 years, we are the same to him. He celebrates our faithfulness as well as our repentance. His blessings are the same for each of us as are the rewards. We should not be looking for advantages as Jesus' disciples did but instead we should just be glad for the opportunity to serve in whatever capacity our Lord chooses to use us. We should also be great encouragers of others with no jealousies. If they have been called to something different it is to our advantage. Whatever we do benefits the body so it is the same for whatever others do; it benefits us as part of the body. We need to celebrate each others gifts and talents, promoting the Kingdom not the person.
This would not work as a business principle because businesses by nature are self-centered and greedy. It is all about profit whether it is a worker friendly business or not. Whereas the Kingdom is all about promoting others, serving others, celebrating others, encouraging others. When one person succeeds we all succeed. When one person suffers we all suffer. This is the Body of Christ and we do not mind at all that the first will be last and the last will be first. I do not find it a hard thing to be the first one on the field and the last one off, and I do not mind at all that the newest workers receive the same amount as the older workers. How could I possibly complain about the generosity of our Father. I am just glad that I was chosen and I decided to answer the call. It is a privilege to receive from God's generosity, it is a privilege to work his land. The Kingdom is always all about others and the sooner we understand that the sooner we can get on with our joyful living. The first will be last and the last will be first, is something to celebrate.