“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.’
“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon 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. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘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.’” …
Most people aren’t paid what they’re worth. Some get far too little. Others make way too much. On the relative scale of salary comparisons, there’s precious little justice. Think about nurses caring for coronavirus patients in the ICU: there’s no way they are paid enough. What about the young Super Bowl champion quarterback who just signed a $500 million contract… to play football? Then again, if you agree to work for a certain wage, you don’t have a right to complain about what you are paid at the end of the day. The struggle comes when you start to compare what you make or what you have or what opportunities you have given against someone else. Life isn’t fair, especially when it comes to money.
Jesus put his finger squarely on one of the most sensitive spots in the human heart. Call it the fairness nerve or the justice bone. Jesus knows how quickly we humans will get bent out of shape the second someone else gets treated better than us. If I work twice as much as her, I better get paid twice as much! How dare you pay him as much as me! Even as we listen to Jesus’ story, we can’t help but side with the workers who bore “the burden of the work and the heat of the day.” In a perfectly fair and just world, they have a right to be upset, we think. Except that this world is not perfectly fair or just.
Jesus will answer our complaints in the last few lines of his parable, but for now, let’s remember to be cautious with comparisons and to take a breath before crying about fairness. If we are honest, most of us end up on the good side of many unfair situations. We come out ahead at least as often as we get short-changed. Sure, there are exceptions, and you might have a right to complain about some of the hardships in your life, but if Jesus is your Savior, then you have already been blessed far more than you deserve.Gracious Father, forgive me for wanting what others have and complaining about what I think I deserve. Your love is enough. Help me to be content with what I have and to be grateful for all the blessings You bring me, through Jesus my Savior. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian