Question: Can you help me interpret the Parable of the Laborers in Matthew 20:1-16?
Answer: Parables are not given to build doctrine upon, but to illustrate spiritual and practical truths. Every parable has one main spiritual truth and some secondary applications. Do not make everything in a parable mean something, or you will get yourself lost.
The owner of the vineyard needed workers. In the morning (about 6 a.m.), these workers would not work until they knew exactly what they were going to get paid (Verse 2).
In Verses 3,4 at the third hour (9 a.m.), the workers trusted the owner’s promise of "whatever is right I will give you."
In Verses 5-7 the owner secured laborers about the sixth hour (noon), the ninth hour (3 p.m.) and the eleventh hour (5 p.m.) with the same promise.
Those who started about 6 a.m. and worked all day would not have done so unless they were guaranteed a normal day’s wage. Some Christians seem reluctant to go ahead and do things for the Lord unless they see a price tag of reimbursement before they start. It was their lack of faith that caused them to complain, as recorded in Verses 10,11,
"But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. (10) And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house, " - Matthew 20:10-11
Personally, I want to serve the Lord because I love Him. I can honestly say, He has always, without exception, overpaid me much more than I deserve. I hope you feel the same.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord". (1 Corinthians 15:58)