Daily Reform, Day 217
Galatians 3:2 and Matthew 20:1-16
From the Reformer
Take the case of Naaman, the Syrian, who was a Gentile and did not belong to the race of Moses. Yet his flesh was cleansed, the God of Israel was revealed unto him, and he received the Holy Ghost. Naaman confessed his faith: “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.” (II Kings 5:15.) Naaman does not do a thing. He does not busy himself with the Law. He was never circumcised. That does not mean that his faith was inactive. He said to the Prophet Elisha: “Thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing.” What did the Prophet tell him? “Go in peace.” The Jews do not like to hear the prophet say this. “What,” they exclaim, “should this heathen be justified without the Law? Should he be made equal to us who are circumcised?”
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
Consider the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. Early on, workers were hired to work the whole day for a denarius, a small, silver, Roman coin. Midday, others were hired to work the remaining half-day for the same silver coin. When most of the day was gone, still more laborers were brought on for the same rate of pay. If they worked until the end of the day, they would get a silver coin.
Those who worked hard all day long, being careful to do all the employer told them were outraged that those who came late in the day received the same pay. They had barely had time to do any work at all, if any, and they received equal pay. We also, might think this unfair. Yet Jesus warned us. It should not surprise us that religious people are outraged at God’s grace.
It is not your hard work that gets you the silver coin. You get the silver coin because you believed you would be paid if you just showed up at the workplace whenever you were called. That would have been hard to believe.
Do you believe?
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers