Saturday 8 September, 2018

Matthew 20:1-16

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. 3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ 7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ 8 “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.’ 9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘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.’ 13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

As I come to the end of this passage I find myself empathising with the workers who had laboured for 12 hours. It seems unfair that they should be paid the same as those who worked for only one hour. Unless, the wages were a reflection of the owner’s generosity, and not a de-valuing of the original workers’ labour.

If I stop and think about it, the original workers spent the day knowing they would be paid and were purposefully employed. Right from 6am in the morning they had the peace of income, and could sleep well that night satisfied with a solid day’s work. But what about the others? Maybe they had slept in, maybe they had lazed about… but maybe they had waited in the market all day hoping to be hired. There would be no peace in that, no purposeful activity… they were no better off than the original workers. How good even to work for an hour, and feel that even if the pay was generous, you had contributed to the owner’s business.

Wow, how generous is God in supplying our needs and also giving us the opportunity to work. And how generous and just is He in extending salvation to all who choose to believe, at any point in the ‘day’. Bless you God. Amen.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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