The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
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.
About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the market-place doing nothing.
He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.'
So they went. He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing.
About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?'
'Because no-one has hired us,' they answered. He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.'
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 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.
When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.
These men 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.'
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.
Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'
So the last will be first, and the first will be last.
Matthew 20 verses 1-16 New International Version
"The employer in Jesus' story did not cheat the full-day workers by paying everyone for an hour's work instead of twelve. No, the full-day workers got what they were promised. Their discontent arose from the scandalous mathematics of grace. They could not accept that the employer had the right to do what he wanted with his money when it meant paying scoundrels twelve times what they deserved.
Significantly, many Christians who study this parable identify with the employees who put in a full day's work, rather than the add-ons at the end of the day. We like to think of ourselves as responsible workers and the employer's strange behaviour baffles us as it did the original hearers. We risk missing the point: that God dispenses gifts, not wages. None of us gets paid according to merit, for none of us come close to satisfying God's requirement for a perfect life. If paid on the basis of fairness, we would all end up in hell."
This really challenged me...I see this parable now in a whole new way and with a whole new sense of understanding.Philip Yancey
"In the bottom-line realm of ungrace, some workers deserve more than others; in the realm of grace the words "deserve" does not even apply."
"I believe Jesus gave us these stories about grace in order to call us to step completely outside our tit-for-tat world of ungrace and enter into God's realm of infinite grace....../
/.......From nursery school onward we are taught how to succeed in the world of ungrace. The early bird gets the worm. No pain, no gain. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Demand your rights. Get what you pay for. I know these rules well because I live by them. I work for what I earn; I like to win; I insist on my rights. I want people to get what they deserve- nothing more, nothing less.
Yet if I care to listen, I hear a loud whisper from the gospel that I did not get what I deserved. I deserved punishment and got forgiveness. I deserved wrath and got love. I deserved debtor's prison and got instead a clean credit history."Philip Yancey