“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.
“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
I have been thinking about this parable a lot lately. Jesus really hits the nail on the head for how we humans often think. We can so quick to be jealous of others and to grumble and complain.
This is such a wonderful parable to point out the difference between equal and fair. I know that the day is coming when my children will begin to complain about things not being fair.
But really, they are not desiring fairness, they are desiring what they feel like they deserve. Likely they would still not be happy with what is actually "fair".
Growing up, I can remember many times when I felt like what I was receiving was unfair. That I deserved more, or less. I was rarely quiet about what I thought was unjust or unequal.
Looking back on our house full of craziness, my parents really did have a handle on what was fair. It was not always equal, but our circumstances, attitudes, and challenges were all different and they handled them the best they could have.
The boss in the parable was a kind and generous person. He took people from the city who had no jobs to do and gave them a job. He took a lot of men that needed work and gave them a way to earn money. He generously pays them all the same pay. Not many people would do that. Most would pay for the work that they received and send them on their way.
Think about how blessed the men who were hired at 5 would feel. They spent the day trying to find work. They likely felt hopeless and were disappointed to be unable to bring home any money for their families. This man comes near the end of the day and gives them work. They were likely just happy to be able to bring home any money at all and then they were blessed with the same money as the others. They were probably beside themselves with excitement.
I totally understand where the men who worked all day were coming from. Watching the other men get paid, they started to expect more. They probably were getting pretty excited thinking about how much they would likely be getting paid. "If they are getting a denarius, then I should be getting almost 10."
It would be such a blow to then get the same as the others. It would be like hearing that the work they did all day was the same as what those men could do in an a few hours. Ouch.
Somehow getting what we were told we would get, sometimes doesn't live up to our expectations.
God is generous. He gives us so many blessings. But we are often the ungrateful workers.
We expect more. We are jealous of the blessings that others receive and we compare ourselves to them. We judge them by their what they say and do, or don't do or say. We compare ourselves to them. We compare our "work for the kingdom". And then we get upset that God is giving them more when they don't deserve it.
But our Father in heaven has a good handle on what is fair. NOT EQUAL, what is fair (meaning: free from bias, dishonesty or injustice). He is the Judge.
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
He loves to bless us. We receive His blessings, not for good works or good behavior, but by His love and mercy.
The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
without painful toil for it.
without painful toil for it.
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8