“For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last 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?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
There are so many lessons in this parable but the one I want to draw on today is the fact that the householder (Jesus) was constantly looking for labourers (us) even well beyond the normal time when hiring would have been finished (who hires when the day is nearly done?). Do you ever catch yourself thinking that you have done more work than other fellow believers? Do you at times think that your own righteousness is greater than others? Maybe we might think that based on the amount of works we have done Jesus must esteem us higher than those who aren’t doing as much. The apostles even suffered from this (“who is the greatest among us?”). We can easily forget that we have no righteousness of our own, that it all comes from Christ and his mercy. Our goal is to seek his righteousness and forgiveness and to help our fellow laborers along the path. We are told not to esteem ourselves higher than another and by doing so we can look at our neighbours in a far better light.
May we see that our lives are based on Christ’s mercy and not on our own sense of self-importance.