Jesus told a parable of a man who planted a vineyard and then leased it to tenants to work it for him. After a while the owner of the vineyard sent servants to the tenants to collect a portion of the fruit in payment on the lease, but the tenants beat the servants and sent them away without payment. Finally, the owner sent his son thinking the tenants would respect him. Instead, they killed him because he was the heir and they wanted to inherit the vineyard for themselves.
In these verses Jesus asked those listening how the owner should resolve his problem and then answered His own question: he would destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others! The meaning of the parable was obvious to those who heard it–the owner of the vineyard was God and the tenants were the priests and scribes, the spiritual leaders of the Jews (vs. 19).
But, the meaning of the parable should not be lost on those of us today who are stewards of God’s grace–individually or collectively. When we get so focused on our own good works and neglect the One we are working for, we can develop a false sense of entitlement like the wicked tenants who claimed ownership of the vineyard and all they produced from it.
The grace of God is not an entitlement! Just because I proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t make it mine! It doesn’t make me its proprietor nor does it mean God owes me.
So, we aren’t entitled to the fruits of God’s Kingdom; we are merely recipients of His unmerited favor. And, when we have received it into our lives, then we respond to God’s graciousness with gratefulness by living with godliness!
We are just tenant-farmers who work the vineyard and the fruits of our labor belong to God. It is always God’s vineyard no matter how hard we work in it or how successful we are in harvesting it.
Your inheritance is eternal life and your reward awaits you in the new heaven and new earth!
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB)