There was a vineyard owner who went out early in the morning to hire people to work for him. He promised them a day’s wage, and then sent them into the vineyard. A few hours later he hired more people to help, promising a fair wage. Later in the day he rounded up another group to work in the vineyards, and promised to pay whatever was right.. Again, when it was almost time to quit work, he did the same thing.
When the sun set, he asked his foreman to pay all of the workers, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first. Those who worked a small amount of time were paid first, earning an entire day’s wage. The workers who were hired first, watched all of those in front of them being paid a full day’s wage. These workers, the ones who labored in the vineyard all day long, began to get excited. The owner was a generous man, giving everyone a day’s wage even though they didn’t work an entire day. Surely they would make more money than promised!
Imagine their happy energy when they finally got to the front of the line. They worked hard all day and now they couldn’t wait to see how much money they would be given. Perhaps it would be doubled or tripled or maybe more since they worked longer than everyone else before them in line.
But each one of them also received a day’s wage.
They grumbled – my how they grumbled…It’s not fair! These men hired last made the same amount to those of us who have been here all day. We did most of the work and toiled through the heat of the day.
The vineyard owner responded, “Friends, I am not being unfair. Did you agree to work for a day’s wage? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
Jesus was the first to tell this story
. He ended it with these words, “So the last will be first and the first will be last.”
It’s a story designed to show His amazing grace. It doesn’t matter how much we mess up, or how imperfect we are, or how far we think we have to go in comparison to the other mother or other teacher or other friend or other Christian, at the end of the day, he will offer us all the same – we each get His unending love.
Sometimes I get frustrated when our kids who we adopted when they were older question whether I love them as much as the son we adopted at birth. There is no comparison. I love them each more than I ever thought possible, I love them each more every time they breathe.
I wonder if Jesus gets frustrated when I question whether I’m good enough, when I question whether He can use me. It makes me begin to understand the grace Jesus was talking about in this story. Each worker got the best for the day, no matter when they started. Each of my children get the most love I can give, no matter when they joined the family. As for me, I can have amazing grace, no matter how much I mess up.
We all can.