3/19/2020 – The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
Passage: Matthew 20:1-16
Written By: Henley Wells – Undergrad
The parable of the workers in the vineyard is one that I have come to know well. Jesus tells the story of a landowner hiring workers to tend his crops. At the end of the day, all the workers are paid the same amount even though some of them worked the whole day and others only worked for an hour. The workers who worked the full day naturally thought they deserved more than the ones who didn’t, because that is what they felt to be “fair”.
Fairness is a something many people value highly in their lives in our society. Everything must be fair, or someone will do everything in their power to ensure it is. I must admit, I am not unlike the rest of society. Growing up in a house with three siblings, fairness was valued highly. If one of my siblings got to do something, I felt like I should be able to do it as well. However, this was not the case in my house, because fairness is not always a reality. I was once told by a professor, “If everything in life was fair, the word fair wouldn’t exist.” I think this quote perfectly describes the lesson Jesus was trying to teach with this story.
Going into the day, the workers were told exactly what they would be paid, and they were content with it, because at that time, they believed it to be fair. It’s amazing how quickly our perception of things can change because of the environment surrounding us. When the workers saw new workers come into the field throughout the day, their thoughts certainly would have been that the new workers would receive a wage equal to a percentage of the full amount, based on how much of the day they worked. I completely understand this mindset the workers had, because this is exactly how it is today. I am an Industrial Engineering major, so naturally, I want to bring math into this situation. However, the math for this situation seems simple, so you don’t have to be mathematically blessed to understand that if you work for ten hours at $10 an hour, you make $100, and if you work for one hour at $10 an hour, you make $10.
Because of our human nature, it is hard for us to understand how the landowner and Jesus are thinking. When the workers were placed in the new, different environment of being paid at the end of the day, their attitudes changed completely from the field. They saw what was happening, and their greed and need for fairness became evident. The landowner’s equal treatment of everyone showed no care for fairness. It showed the kind of love God gives to everyone. God does not care when, how, or where you show your faith in him. His distribution of funds is equal for everyone. At the end of the day, God shows us why there isn’t a need for fairness in Heaven, so our constant desire for it isn’t needed either.