Are you envious because I am generous? Matthew 20:15 (NIV)
My mind has been lingering in the landowner’s vineyard described in Matthew 20 and meditating on the players in this parable.
Here’s the set up…
Early in the morning* (vs 1), 6:00 our time, the eager landowner (aka God) snagged some men to work in his vineyard. He offered to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them to his vineyard.
At about the third hour (9 o’clock AM), the landowner went out again and saw men standing in the marketplace doing nothing (vs3). He also invited them to work in his vineyard, telling them he’d pay whatever was right (vs 4).
At the sixth and ninth hour (noon and 3 o’clock, respectively), the landowner did the same thing. Two hours later (5 PM) he went out for the last time.
From the start, He told the first workers what they were to be paid for the day. A denarius.
I can only assume they accepted the opportunity with a smile and tended the vineyard in the heat of the day, performing the majority of the work. There’s no mention whether or not the other workers were told how much they’d be paid. Nor did any of them ask. Maybe they were just awful glad to have been hired.
Then came time to be paid.
God knows math. He’s the author of numerical order and reason. He didn’t flub up and miscalculate.
Among other things, I believe God intended His extension of generosity to expose the insidious condition of the heart. In this case, envy. (vs 15)
Envy can run, but it can’t hide. At some point, it will manifest itself.
So which vineyard worker am I?
Do I work with eager hands and humbly accept God’s good gift? Or… do I drift a covetous gaze to other workers and discover He’s given another soul more than I believe they deserve, making my payment seem unfair? Disingenuous?
Perhaps I’m the worker standing around in the marketplace…doing nothing. If so, is it because I’m waiting with patient and trusting heart for His call to a particular work? Or am I doing nothing because I’ve neglected the call to a particular work He’s already assigned?
Maybe I’m one who received an entire denarius for the last hour’s work and believe I’m unworthy of his generosity. Maybe.
Whatever God gives for whatever it is He calls me to do is His good pleasure. May He find my heart humble and grateful to receive it.
What about you? Which vineyard worker are you?
*Click here for an article on post-exilic Jewish division of the day.
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