Matthew 20:6
About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' he asked.
Activity Out of Christ VainArchbishop Trench.Matthew 20:6
Busy About NothingMatthew 20:6
Busy IdlenessDr. Guthrie.Matthew 20:6
Divine SovereigntyC. H. Spurgeon.Matthew 20:6
IdlenessB. Beddome.Matthew 20:6
Idleness a SinW. Durant.Matthew 20:6
Idleness Deteriorates the Moral NatureAnon.Matthew 20:6
Idleness UnprofitableFranklin.Matthew 20:6
LabourersJohn Trapp.Matthew 20:6
Lazy ChristiansT. Brooks., Anon.Matthew 20:6
Proverbs on IdlenessMatthew 20:6
Satan's Work and WagesW. Atherton.Matthew 20:6
Spiritual IdlenessAlfred Tucker.Matthew 20:6
Standing IdleW. Atherton.Matthew 20:6
Standings IdleEugene Bersier.Matthew 20:6
The Eleventh Hour a Type of Old AgeR. Tuck Matthew 20:6
The Inexcusable IdlenessJ. T. Van Osberzee, D. D.Matthew 20:6
The Social Difficulty of the WorklessR. Tuck Matthew 20:6
Work for All in God's VineyardMatthew 20:6
Working and RustingBlind Amos.Matthew 20:6
Cheerfulness in WorkJ. Parsons.Matthew 20:1-16
Christian Condition and Christian CharacterBishop Huntington.Matthew 20:1-16
Conversion Postponed to Old AgeT. Adams.Matthew 20:1-16
Disadvantage of EnvyColton.Matthew 20:1-16
Disinterested ServiceBishop Huntingdon.Matthew 20:1-16
Diversity of Reward Imaged in NatureR. Collyer.Matthew 20:1-16
God a Good PaymasterC. H. Spurgeon.Matthew 20:1-16
God Himself the Best RewardW. M. Taylor, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
God's Bounty to Those Who TrustE. B. Pusey, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
God's Persevering ActivityR. Rothe, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
God's Sovereign GraceC. H. Spurgeon.Matthew 20:1-16
Hired Late in the DayGeorge LawsonMatthew 20:1-16
Hiring Labourers in the EastMr. Morier., Van Lennep.Matthew 20:1-16
IdleR. Rothe, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
LabourersM. Braithwaite., J. Edmonson.Matthew 20:1-16
Love Makes Labour LightBible Jewels.Matthew 20:1-16
Mine OwnJ. C. Gray.Matthew 20:1-16
Never Too Late for God's GraceMatthew 20:1-16
Reward Given During Work as Well as After it is DoneR. Collyer.Matthew 20:1-16
Septuagesima SundayJ. A. Seiss, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
Similarity of Reward not EqualityDr. Parker.Matthew 20:1-16
Slothfulness CondemnedJ. C. Gray.Matthew 20:1-16
The Astonishment of PrecedenceJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 20:1-16
The Call of NationsR. Collyer.Matthew 20:1-16
The Evil EyeJ. C. Gray.Matthew 20:1-16
The Festive Evening TimeJ. P. Lange, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
The Grudging SpiritM. Dods, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
The Labourers in the VineyardW. M. Taylor, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
The Labourers in the VineyardA M. Ludlow, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
The Labourers in the VineyardJ. Styles, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
The Labourers in the VineyardW.F. Adeney Matthew 20:1-16
The Labourers in the VineyardMarcus Dods Matthew 20:1-16
The Thought of Reward Does not Enter into the Higher Aspects of ServiceBishop Huntingdon.Matthew 20:1-16
The Vineyard LabourersJ C. Gray.Matthew 20:1-16
The World a Market-PlaceJ. C. Gray.Matthew 20:1-16
The Worth of Work Determined by the Spirituality of its MotiveW. M. Taylor, D. D.Matthew 20:1-16
Unto This LastJ. B. Brown, B. A.Matthew 20:1-16
Waiting to be CalledR. Collyer.Matthew 20:1-16
Work and WagesAnon., G. M. Taft.Matthew 20:1-16

This treatment illustrates the suggestiveness of Scripture figures. They start thought on lines that lead away from their immediate connections.

I. AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR THERE IS STILL WORK TO BE DONE. Froude says, "Beautiful is old age - beautiful as the slow dropping mellow autumn of a rich and glorious summer. In the old man Nature has fulfilled her work; she loads him with her blessings; she fills him with the fruits of a well spent life; and, surrounded by his children and his children's children, she rocks him away to a grave, to which he is followed with blessings. God forbid we should not call it beautiful! If old age were only beautiful, it would be a power we could ill afford to lose. For all beauty is akin to truth, and all truth is akin to God; and so all beauty is a shadow of him, a message from him, a help towards him. This sin-filled world wants all the truth, all the love, all the beauty it can get, in order to dispel the darkness, the hate, and the ugliness of its evil. We become as the things on which we look, and God keeps old men and women among us in order that we may see, and feel, and be lifted higher by their grace. The aged are kept among us because of the work they can do. One thing - they can check our hurry. Young folk want everything at once. The aged seem to say, "Quietly. One thing at a time. Good things are worth waiting for." And they are kept in order to link together the generations. What a world it would be if the people came and went in complete generations, and there was no blending of one with the other, so that experience might tone ardour! And the aged among us witness for God. They tell us of the God who "fed them all their life long; the God who redeemed them from evil."

II. AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR GOD DOES CALL MEN TO HIS SERVICE. He proves the riches of his grace in the conversion of old men and old women. A marvel of grace, indeed, when all the long ten hours of the day of life have been spent in the service of self, A saved old man is the witness that God can "save unto the uttermost."

III. AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR IS AN ALMOST HOPELESS TIME FOR BEGINNING A LIFE WORK. It is unsuitable for any beginnings. The sun is in the wrong quarter of the heavens. "The night cometh when no man can work." And the ability is low. The "eleventh hour" is time to be weary, and go to the long rest. - R.T.

Why stand ye here all the day idle?
I. THE EVIL CENSURED. Spiritual idleness. Often accompanied with great secular activity, and a flaming profession. Consists in neglect — of life's mission; the souls salvation and sanctification (Philippians 2:12, 13); works for the spiritual benefit of others seeking in order to save them that are lost (1 Corinthians 10:24). This neglect is highly criminal.

1. As injurious to one's self. Deteriorates the moral nature.

2. As injurious to others.

3. As disobedience to the Divine summons, "Go work," etc. Christ came to do the Father's will, and summons us to follow Him.

II. THE CONTINUANCE AND AGGRAVATION OF THE EVIL. "All the day idle," etc. Youth, manhood, age. The reproach increases with the passing months and years.

1. When so much work for yourself and others ought to have been done.

2. When others have been so long labouring.

3. When there has been so much time and opportunity — "eleventh hour" — "market place."

4. When the working day is drawing to a dose.

III. The EXCUSES offered for the evil. "Why stand ye?" asks the Master, and what are the usual replies? —

1. We have not been invited by the minister, etc. Don't wait for such invitations — offer)-our services — "I must work," etc.

2. We lack the necessary qualifications, etc.

3. We lack opportunity, etc.

4. We give money, etc. This will not be accepted by the Master as a substitute for personal service. You cannot do this work by proxy. Work for Christ is personal, and cannot be delegated to others, etc.

IV. The MOTIVES go abandon the evil.

1. The urgency of the work.

2. The activity of Satan and his emissaries.

3. The honour and pleasure of active service. Work in which the Son of Man was employed when on earth. No less happy than honourable.

4. The assurance of Divine help. May be difficulties you fear to meet, but God will strengthen and direct, etc.

5. The brevity of life's golden opportunity. Difficulty increases with delay. You will get accustomed to idleness and it will become chronic. Whether early or late in the day, begin Now.

6. The promise of reward. Present; future — in and for. "Whatsoever is right that shall ye receive." "They that turn," etc.

(Alfred Tucker.)

The text contains —

I. AN IMPLICATION — That there is work to be done.

1. Knowledge to acquire — of God, self, etc.

2. Blessing, to secure. Pardon, etc.

3. Duties to discharge. Notwithstanding, many are idle.

II. AN EXPOSTULATION. Why stand ye who are active, rational, responsible, rewardable creatures? Why stand ye here idle? Here on a theatre of action. In this the day of your probation. In this state of uncertainty. Why stand ye? Standing not working.

III. AN INQUIRY? "Why?" Some are idle because they have no work. Some do not like the master. Some do not love the work. Some imagine themselves unable to work. Some do not like the wages. Some no man hath hired. Does not the Bible, memory, and conscience supply instances in which He would have hired you, but you were unwilling to have your old Master and desert His work, etc.

(W. Atherton.)

Here lies what was once a bar of iron, but the joint action of air and water has reduced it to a bar of rust. It has now no strength, and consequently no value. To how many varied and useful purposes it might have been put some years ago and in its work have found its strength, beauty, and preservation; but it is too late now; it will soon be blended with the earth upon which it passively lies, a striking emblem of the man who through sloth and love of ease refuses to face the hammer and anvil of active life and honest work; who flies from the purifying tire of life's adversities, and who will fight no battle for truth and the higher interests of his soul.


A lazy Christian shall always want four things, viz., comfort, content, confidence, and assurance. God hath made separation between joy and idleness, between assurance and laziness, and therefore it is impossible for thee to bring these together.

(T. Brooks.)A busy man is troubled but with one devil, but the idle man with a thousand.


Idleness is a sin, for it involves disobedience to Christ's command, "Go into My vineyard and work." It is a sin, for it shows an utter want of sympathy with the Master, "who went about doing good," and who expected His followers "to do good to all as they have opportunity." It is a sin, for it indicates a selfish love of ease; and a Divine woe is pronounced on all who are at "ease in Zion." It is a sin, for it reveals a callous heart, insensible to the woes of a lost world. Every idler in the church is a sinner, for to him that "knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Alas! how many sinners are found in Zion, and what must be their doom when the Master cometh to judge the unfaithful servants who have hid their talent in place of using it!

(W. Durant.)

The bee and the butterfly are both busy creatures; there is an activity that ends in nothing; there are lives that store no honey,

Two ploughshares were once made by the same blacksmith, in the same smithy, from the same kind of iron, and they were bought by the same farmer. He took them home; one he took into instant employment, but he left the other unemployed for twelve months in a barn, till the poor thing got covered with rust: at last the farmer had occasion for another ploughshare, so he drew it forth from its laziness and obscurity, and sent it into the field, where it met its old fellowploughshare. "Why," said the lazy one, "what has kept you so bright? I declare I am quite ashamed to be seen." "Ah!" said the bright ploughshare, "it is labour and exercise that has kept me bright. Your rest and idleness has been injurious to you; but when you have been driven a few times through the earth, you will lose your rust and become beautiful and bright too."

(Blind Amos.)

There is such a thing as laborious idleness. Busy? So was the shepherd on the Alps, mentioned by Dugald Stewart, who spent fifteen years of life learning to balance a pole on his chin: and the philosopher sagely remarks how much good, had they been directed to a noble object, this diligence and perseverance would have accomplished. Busy': So have I seen the miller's wheel, which went round and round: but idly, grinding no corn. Busy? So, in a way, was the Russian who, facing the winter's cold, nor regarding the cost of massive slabs brought at great labour from frozen lake and river, built him an icy palace, within whose glittering, translucent wails, wrapped in furs and shining in jewels, rank and beauty held their revelry.', and the bowl and the laugh and the song went round. But width soft breath, and other music, and opening buds, spring returned; and then before the eves that had gazed with wonder on the crystal walls of that fairy palace as they gleamed by night with a thousand lights, or flashed with the radiance of gems in the bright sunshine, it dissolved, nor left "a rack behind;" its pleasures, "vanity;" its expense, "vexation of spirit." Busy? be, in a way, are the children who, when the tide is at the ebb, with merry laughter and rosy cheeks and nimble hands build a castle of the moist sea sand — the thoughtless urchins, types of lovers of pleasure and of the world so intent on their work as not to see how the treacherous, silent tide has crept around them, not merely to sap and undermine, and with one rude blow of her billow demolish the work of their hands, but to cut off their retreat to the distant shore, and drown their frantic screams and cries for help in the roar of its remorseless waves. From a death-bed, where all he toiled and sinned and sorrowed for is slipping from his grasp, fading from his view, such will his life seem to the busiest worldling; he spends his strength for naught, and his labour for that which profiteth not. With an eye that pities because it foresees our miserable doom, God calls us from such busy trifling, from a life of laborious idleness, to a service which is as pleasant as it is profitable, as graceful as it is dutiful, saying, Work out your salvation — Work while it is called to-day, seeing that the night cometh when no man can work.

(Dr. Guthrie.)

Have you never thought with extreme sadness of the many men and women upon our earth whose lives are useless? Have you never reflected upon the millions of people who waste in nothingness their thoughts, affections, energies, all their powers, which frivolity dissipates as the sand of the desert absorbs the water which is sent upon it from the sky? These beings pass onward, without even asking themselves toward what end they journey, or for what reason they were placed here below.

(Eugene Bersier.)

All activity out of Christ, all labour that is not labour in His Church, is in His sight a "standing idle."

(Archbishop Trench.)

Evil thoughts intrude in an unemployed mind as naturally as worms are generated in a stagnant pool. No pains, no gains. No sweat, no sweet. No mill, no meal. An idle brain is the devil's workshop. He that would eat the kernel, must crack the nut.

It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service; but idleness taxes many of us much more. Sloth, by bringing on disease, absolutely shortens life. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labour wears: while the used key is always bright. How much more time than is necessary do we spend in sleep, forgetting that the sleeping fox catches no poultry, and there will be sleeping enough in the grave!


A good minister, now in heaven, once preached to iris congregation a powerful sermon founded upon the words, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" The sermon did good to many, among whom was a lady who went to the minister the next day, and said, "Doctor, I want a spade." We should be happy to put spades into the hands of all our idle friends. There are Sunday-school spades. Mission-room spades, Tract-distribution spades, Sick-visitation spades, etc.. etc. Who will apply for them?

Idleness was one of the sins of Sodom, and it is often the forerunner of temporal and eternal ruin. No evil is more common, though none is more dangerous.

I. To whom the charge of idleness is applicable.

1. It will in a certain sense apply to all unconverted men, who with respect to the highest interests of life, may be said to be always idle.

a. They are content to do nothing at all for God; nothing that He approves, nothing that He will accept,

b. They do nothing for their own souls, any more than for the glory of God.

c. They do nothing for their generation, according to the will of God.

d. They do nothing to any good purpose, or that will turn to account another day.

2. It will apply in too many instances, even to Christians themselves, of whom there are but few who can be applauded for their diligence and fidelity.

II. Point out the inexcusableness of such conduct.

1. The talents committed to our trust require to be occupied. and must be finally accounted for.

2. The want of a capacity to labour in the Lord's vineyard cannot be pleaded with success.

3. We are placed in a situation where our services are expected and required.

4. We have lost too much time already.

(B. Beddome.)

not loiterers. — Jacob saw the angels, some ascending, others descending, but none standing still. God hath made Behemoth to play in the water, not so men; they must be doing, that will keep in with God.

(John Trapp.)

I. Why? The vineyard is so spacious.

II. The reward is so liberal.

III. The Master is so kind.

IV. The hour of working is so short.

(J. T. Van Osberzee, D. D.)

While the Lord of heaven is employing various means and instruments to engage labourers into His vineyard, Satan is going through the earth, with the pleasures of sin in one hand, and the allurements of the world in the other, to engage poor deluded souls into his thorny wilderness. Would you startle if we could now summon forward the Prince of Hell, and say, "Well, Devil, and what wilt thou give?" Listen. Hear that hoarse murmur from the pit: "I will find them work that they love. It shall please their senses, gratify their appetites, indulge their passions, and delight their grossly carnal hearts. Every one shall find the pleasure for which he lusts, his own besetting sin; the swine shall have husks and mire." "And what more? I will exempt them from the persecutions of religion, the contempt of the world, the reproach of the cross of Christ, from the irksome discharge of duty, and the gloomy services of piety." "Go on. What more?" "I will keep them in the fashion; lind them abundance of associates: for wide is my gate, broad is my way, and many there are that enter therein." "But what will be their food? The chaff of worldly pleasure and deceitfulness of sin, producing disappointment and dissatisfaction." "What their drink? .... The gall of hitter reflections, tormenting passions, reproaches of reason, and dread anticipations." "Where do they rest?" "Nowhere. Like a troubled sea, they cannot rest. They lie down in sorrow." "But what wages, Devil, wilt thou give? .... Darkness, outer-darkness, blackness of darkness." A bad master, hard disgraceful work, and tremendous wages! Why stand ye here all the day idle? Set to work. Have you sinned? now repent. Are you in the world? come out and be separate. Have you time? use it. Powers? employ them. A Bible? read it. A throne of grace? fall down before it. Is there a God? serve Him. A Saviour? believe in him.

(W. Atherton.)

Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? We shall divide God's gifts into five classes: —

I. GIFTS TEMPORAL. What a difference in men personally; one is born like Saul, head and shoulders taller than the rest; another like Zaccheus. So in mental gifts; what a difference exists! The differences of men's conditions in this world. God is ruler and shall He not do as He will with His own. Bless God that thou hast more than others, and thank Him also that He has given thee less than others; for thou hast a higher burden.


1. The fallen angels not redeemed.

2. Note, again, God chose the Israelitish race and left the Gentiles for years in darkness.

3. Why is it that God has sent His word to us, while a multitude of people are still without it.

4. Why do some listen to the truth and others not. Salvation is of the Lord alone.


1. One man hath the gift of knowledge, another hath little.

2. Office.

3. Utterance.



(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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