Matthew 20:1-16 – “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 “When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 “And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. 5 “Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. 6 “And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ 7 “They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ 9 “When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. 10 “When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 “When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ 13 “But he answered and said to one of them, ‘ Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14’Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 ‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ 16 “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” NASU
I posted something recently about “Fairness” which seems to be a buzzword in political circles these days along with “Redistributing the Wealth”, making the “Playing field level”, and everyone “Equal.” This whole postulation misses something important from a biblical perspective that touches every aspect of life. I want to briefly address that here.
This is an illustration by the Lord regarding the “first” being last and the “last” being first and the truth that Salvation is NEVER EARNED based on performance, work, actions, deeds, etc. We have seen the flames of class warfare being fanned to inferno heights over the past few years and it is growing dangerous. We have seen an entitlement mentality develop and grow that depletes society of the drive and desire to achieve and excel. It is a prescription to mediocrity in every area of life and foreign to the Bible and its teachings.
Consider this story for it encapsulates the problem in a nutshell. Some were hired for an agreed wage at the early hours of the morning and at different times during the day others were hired with only the commitment to do what is right by them. Some were hired at the last hour and no specific amount of money was designated. The money belonged to the owner of the vineyard. It was his option to hire the workers, and his privilege to pay them whatever he deemed right and equitable. Everyone had agreed to the conditions and the pay at each stage of the process so nobody had a complaint to lodge although we see that they did. Those who worked all day were paid the same as those who worked only one hour. It exposed envy, jealousy, and a focus on “my rights” failing to understand the value of making a commitment and that the owner of a business had the right to determine the rate of pay. Jesus’ larger message was that although someone might come to Him for salvation at the last stages of their life they would receive Eternal Life the same as someone who had come to him in their youth. Did that make Him unjust and unfair? NO! If I know the conditions, the pay agreement, the working conditions, and I contract to do the job what I’m paid is what I should expect and if the owner does something different for others that is not my concern. It will only cause – envy, jealousy, greed, bitterness, and division between me and those I believe were treated better than I and toward the owner of the enterprise. If I translate that to Salvation then I would adopt the idea that because I came to Christ early in my life I should somehow receive more ETERNAL LIFE and more GRACE than someone who came to Him in the late stages of their life rather than rejoicing that they also came to Him. If my boss is generous who is to say he will not, in time, be generous toward me for my faithfulness and loyalty. But, even if he is not I agreed to do a job for a wage and a time frame I have no complaint. He could give away every penny he has and it is not my right to complain. That is totally between God and the owner.
If you believe that you deserve something that someone else has, for which you have not labored you have crossed into jealousy and envy and that is sin. If you believe that someone who has had success through their efforts or the family into which they were born should be punished and they should be forced to share that with you, you have crossed into envy and jealousy and that is sin. Truthfully, your anger is not so much at them as it is at God because you are expressing that you believe He has not treated you “fairly” and that is a dangerous place to live. No wonder Paul said, “I know how to abound and how to be abased and have learned to be content in whatever state I find myself.” He knew that God was not only His Source but would NEVER forsake Him! Life is not measured by what I possess, how much money I have in the bank, or the recognition I received publicly. It is in my RELATIONSHIP with Him. I desire to learn to live free of all envy and in complete contentment with His provision at the time of His provision KNOWING that He is my Source and WILL NEVER forsake me or fail me. I rejoice in what I have in Him and at every opportunity, He brings before me. If your opportunity is seemingly more lucrative I rejoice with you. If it is less, I weep with you, but I trust God to guide my footsteps into the pathway that I should tread and know that at the end of the day I will be able to REJOICE in His Goodness and Provision.
May you have a blessed weekend!