What value would you place on yourself? If you were given the opportunity for work, what value would be desirable to receive? If others received the same value as you for doing less work, would you be disappointed? If you received the same value as others for doing less work than others, would you be delighted?
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard (Matthew 20:1-2)”
Jesus shares with his disciples the parable of the landowner and the workers being sent into his vineyard to work. Throughout the day, he goes about and hires all who are willing to go into the vineyard and work. Their pay would be a denarius for the days work. Some are hired at the beginning of the day, some towards the middle of the day, and even some at the very end of the day.
“The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour 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 (Matthew 20:9-10)”
In our current economic set up and mindset, it is believed that the longer you work, the more you should receive in compensation. This value was evident even at the time of Jesus. It should be expected that those who had worked in the vineyards since the beginning of the day had accomplished a greater deal than those who came for only an hour. In terms of what they deserve for pay, it would make sense to give those who worked longer more compensation.
“When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These men who were hired last worked only an hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of work and the heat of the day’ (Matthew 20:11-12)”
The sentiment about how much they were to receive was expressed to the landowner by those who had labored for the entirety of the day. It was unfair to them that they received the same pay as those who only had to work for an hour. However, they had forgot the proposal they had agreed to when they first were hired.
“But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you’ (Matthew 20:13-14)”
In the end, all who came to work in the vineyard, whether for an hour, or for the entire day, agreed to receive a denarius for their pay. No one really was getting cheated out of what they had agreed to receive.
The same is true for when it comes to receiving God’s gifts of forgiveness, grace, love, and mercy. We all receive the full value of this gift God desires to grant to us. However, many will find themselves judging others who may not “deserve” this gift as much because of their past actions. Furthermore, people may feel that the more they do, the greater amount of the gift will be granted to them. To God, though, it is not about our own actions, but about the greatest love available to us. God chooses to grant us this gift not because anyone essentially “deserves” this gift. God chooses to grant this gift because God loves all of us.
May we seek to celebrate this gift. May we choose to share this gift with all people, no matter the situations in a person’s life. May we rejoice that this gift is not just for now, but for all of eternity. You and I are valued in God’s eyes higher than anything money or earthly value can grant to us.
Pastor Arlyn ><>