The Landowner hired me early on. Boy, was I happy to get this job! This will help pay for so many needs that have been growing in my family. Maybe even a few wants; maybe even a bit extra to share with others. I can raise my head and not feel shame or frustration as I try again and again to get some work – any work!
Yes, the work is back-breaking, the sun hot. But I’ve been planning all day how to use the pay, so it makes it worthwhile. I’ve seen others come along to help at various points as well throughout the day, so it’s nice to see progress here. In fact, it’s almost quitting time and there’s still more helpers coming! I can’t wait until 6. It’s almost here!
But… what is this? The foreman is doling out the pay to those who have just come on at 5! Hey, I’ve been here all day and my feet are tired – I am soooo ready to leave, and he’s starting with those who have come throughout the day. What about those of us who have been here all day?
Oh well, if he’s paying them such a generous amount and they didn’t put in a whole day’s work, how much more will he pay me?! Even better than I imagined!
Finally, I reach my hand out to receive my day’s wages. Suddenly my thankfulness fades and in its place I feel anger and resentment rising. I’ve received just the same as the ones who came in and worked for one hour!! How unfair is that! Isn’t he known to be benevolent? I certainly deserve more. I need to say something, and say it now! Pushing back my hair soaked from sweat I look up at him.
“Excuse me. There must be a mistake. I’ve been working hard for you all day, putting in my time, getting blisters on my hands and sunburn on my back, but I see that those who came late and worked very little have received the same as me. That’s not fair!” The words exploded out of my mouth and even surprised me with the force.
The landowner stepped up and looked with kind eyes into my face.
“Look friend, I am being fair with you. Did you not receive what we agreed this morning that you would receive – a day’s work for a day’s wages – and you seemed relieved to be chosen and glad for the work and the pay. It’s my choice to give my money to the last worker in my vineyard, even if it is as much as I’m giving you. Haven’t I the right to do what I want with what belongs to me? Do you now begrudge my generosity?’
How perspectives change in an instant! This act actually shows more of His benevolence. It is my opinion of worthiness and deservingness based on my values that needs to change.
The truth is – He is kind. He is good. He is generous. He does not give out of my perception of worth; He gives out of His generous nature. I have not been gypped. He is true to His word and our agreement. He is a man of impeccable integrity.
This has revealed my lack, not His! My lack of understanding. My lack of grace. My doubt of him was not based on his nature, but my own. My selfishness and greed. My values based on quantity and legalism. My eye that is envious and heart that is not grateful. It has stolen my joy as I’ve compared myself with others and thought, “Why should ‘those people’ get the same as me?” And as I began to resent his benevolence with my perceived rights.
Yet He challenges my little thinking. Last on the bus are the first off. Somehow it’s not about fairness, for He is the epitome of fair and just. It’s not about worthiness based on time served. Somehow it goes beyond. It is GRACE.
It is generosity and it is right, not based on my ‘rights’ but on His righteousness.
Generosity is generously linked to grace; neither are based on a sense of ‘deservingness’ of the receiver, but of the nature of the Giver. Generosity is the fruit of grace.
If my thinking doesn’t line up (but reveals the darkness in my own heart) then I need to reconcile my thinking to match His, just as darkness must yield to light.
Getting to know this landowner in deeper ways is the only way to understand and embrace such amazing grace. The more I do, the more I can see things from His perspective.
Such is the kingdom of heaven….