One of my college professors started his classes with a short devotional, reading a passage of Scripture and talking about it for a few minutes before praying and starting class. One thing he always commented on was putting ourselves into the story and asking which character we are.
Last night, Cody and I were reading Matthew 20, the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, and I couldn’t help but be like “ooh! me! me! I labor in a vineyard!”
Then it got kinda real:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:1-16 emphasis mine)
We certainly haven’t had that happen at the vineyard whose grapes I’ve been snipping, but after spending a couple full days in the sun picking, I can totally resonate with the cranky full-day workers. “These people came at 4:00pm, we finished at 5:00pm, and they’re getting the same amount I am, when I have been slaving away since 7:30 this morning??” I can practically hear the tone of voice I’d use complaining to Cody about it later. Reality check!
I know this parable isn’t necessarily telling us to be cool with people getting paid generously while we are getting paid fairly; it’s about the kingdom of heaven being about the lowest, the least, the last. It’s so easy for me to get prideful about knowing Jesus my whole life, when those who choose to believe at the 11th hour will be something to truly rejoice over.
I don’t know if any of this makes sense, but in conclusion, I’d like to be more like the boss who had compassion on those who still hadn’t gotten hired at the eleventh hour, instead of being like the early-morning worker who gets grumpy and tired and complains at the fortune and blessing of others.