It’s all about Grace…or is it?
This Sunday, we will hear the parable in Matthew about the workers in the vineyard – and I assume it is one that many of us have heard multiple times in our lives. The Landowner goes out early in the morning to hire laborers to work in his field. After agreeing to pay them the usual daily wage – which in those days was a denarius, they happily set out to work in the vineyard. The landowner then returns four more times to the area where laborers regularly gather: 9:00, 12:00, 3:00 and 5:00 and offers those who are assembled an opportunity to work in the field. All happily report to work. At the end of the day, all of the laborers are paid the same daily wage of one denarius.
Is that Fair?
We can all hear the first hires: “That’s just not fair! We’ve been here all day, doing the brunt of the work in the scorching sun. Those others only worked a portion of the day. We should earn more!” What they wanted – and I think we all get it – is what was right, fair and just. Most of us have internalized this idea of fairness since we were children. We work hard in school, we deserve an “A” for our effort, I have labored hard in my job. Don’t I deserve a promotion? Or even a bonus?
God made us to be productive and to expect a result from the work we do – goes back to the original creation. But our sinful nature has taken that expectation and twisted it – making it ungodly, which is why we were given the 10th commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male slave or his female slave or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17
These first hour hires show their fallenness. Without question they were coveting what the last-hour men received. They wanted justice.
Remember, however, this is a parable, which is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. “Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner….’” We are talking about God’s kingdom. We, as humans, want God to treat us fairly and give us what we deserve….or do we? Perhaps we might want God to give us what we have not earned or deserved – to show us grace and mercy.
How blind can we be to the presence of God’s grace in our world. This is a lesson on God’s generosity and the grace God chooses to lavish on us all.
Grateful for God’s Amazing Generosity,