Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?
The decision to believe in Christ is an important decision every person has to make in life. Life is like a marketplace filled with people who need to hear the gospel of Christ.
The laborers in Jesus’ parable we will hear about in the gospel on Sunday, would have spent the whole day in the marketplace, idle and without hope, if the landowner had not offered them a job. The men who were hired last worked only one hour, but were paid the same as those who had worked 12 hours. They received more than they expected and were grateful for the generosity of the landowner. The laborers who were employed first negotiated a wage and had no reason to hold a grudge against the landowner for his generosity.
The negotiation of a contract is part of the value system of the world. This system uses productivity to determine wages. The first workers employed in the parable chose this system to relate to the landowner. The value system of the world has a pay structure that increases with increased working hours. Workers who work longer hours are paid more than those who work less hours. It also demands that those who have spent a longer time in employment are considered first and given preference when increases in wage and bonus are due. Of course, there are exceptions.
The value system of God is different from the value system of the world. God does not treat us according to our works but according to His compassion and mercy.
The value system of God is based on love, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God does not love us because of who we are and what we have done but because of who He is.
The value system is by grace because Christ has fully paid the price for sin. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8) The workers who did not work the full time knew perfectly well that they had received a gift they did not deserve. The reason the men who worked 12 hours in the vineyard were so upset was that they were only concerned about themselves. They resented the generosity of the Landowner because it was not extended to them.
We can only accept the value system of God when we trust Him. The first group of workers who were hired negotiated with the landowner to be paid the daily wage. Those who were hired afterwards trusted the landowner’s fairness and needed no contract. They simply accepted his words, ‘you also go into the vineyard and whatever is right, you will receive. Negotiated contracts are necessary in the business world but have no place between God and us.
God knows our needs better than we do and He desires to meet our needs only if we will let Him. If God were to listen to some of us and enter into a contract with us on our terms, we would probably find life miserable. Left to His own desires, God will always do what is right. His mercy is always greater than what we deserve and His abundant grace is able to forgive us every sin. If we would leave the choice to Him, He will always give us more than we deserve or can even earn.