Ep.170: Luke 18: Equal Pay for Unequal Labor
Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
In Matthew 20, Jesus tells the story of a farmer who hired day laborers to work in his vineyard. The first laborers started at sunrise; then the farmer hired additional workers 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 and 5:00 p.m.
At quitting time which was 6:00 p.m., the foreman paid the laborers, starting with the five o’clockers, who had only worked one hour. They received one denarius, the standard rate for a full day’s work. Those who started in the morning thought, “This is good. Generous owner. If these guys got full pay for one hour, we should get lots for working all day.” But when their turn came, they got the same as the late-afternoon workers–just one measly denarius.
Of course, the all-day workers grumbled. They had done the bulk of the work. They labored through the heat of the day. Hadn’t they earned more than the five o’clock slackers? What’s with this–equal pay for unequal labor?
The farmer said , “It’s my money and I want to be generous. I don’t care when people punch in and punch out. I’m not a fan of pay equity and merit-based compensation. Go work for someone else if you want to count pennies. In my vineyard, the first are last and the last are first.”
Jesus, are you saying that the thief on the cross who sneaked into your kingdom in questionable circumstances on his last day, will get the same reward as I, who have worked honestly and honorably all my life? Will the slackers who spent their money on motorhomes and vacation clubs, and skipped weeks of church every winter get the same reward as we who have scrimped and tithed and served the church faithfully and vacationed cheaply if at all?
The Pharisees promoted themselves to first place in your kingdom, abstaining from evil, studying your word, keeping your laws, tithing scrupulously. But you said, “The first will be last, and the last first.” Did the Pharisees earn last place in your kingdom? I have worked hard like they did. What have I earned?
O Jesus, here is my response to your story. I set aside all the time cards I have punched for you. All the work I have done for you. I confess I have been self-serving and arrogant, believing that my faithfulness and sacrifice deserve a generous reward. I confess to an edge of bitterness, wanting to come out ahead of the five o’clock slackers. I release my desire for recognition that I have spent years in your service, not just hours or days.
O Jesus, I give up every claim to equal pay and generous reward. It is a privilege to be in your employ. It is an honor to work with you through the heat of the day. It is a gift to invest my life in your kingdom.
O Jesus, if the post-pandemic reckoning taxes away my savings, if inflation eats away at my comforts, if life is a struggle and its outcome uncertain; still I will praise you and work in your vineyard. It is enough to hear you call my name. It is enough to be a serf in the fields outside your castle. It is enough to spend and be spent in your service.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.