Our current Canadian culture has (rightly!) emphasized the equality of remuneration. As we seek to be people who emulate the justice of Jesus, we should speak for the fair treatment of all people!
Yet, today, in our New Testament reading, Jesus tells a most puzzling story where people who worked for a few hours got paid the same as those who worked all day in the heat of the sun.
If you take the time to study this parable of Jesus, you soon realize Jesus is teaching that those who have known the Father longer should be generous with those who have not yet experienced the abundant life of Jesus. In the case of the parable in Matthew, Jesus is referencing the religious rulers who missed the Old Testament instruction that the purpose of being the chosen people of God is so they can experience and reciprocate God’s blessing.
Our own faith today – which has been radically influenced by our consumer-driven culture – has the same tension: “But we were here first,” “We paid for this building,” “those” people who are different from us (generational, cultural, demographic, etc.) should be willing to sacrifice (take less pay) to be like us! Friends, let’s use this story as a reminder that it’s not about us! It is about those who were invited after us, and the privilege we have of sharing the blessings of being the people of God!
Is this fair? First off, (as every parent has said to every kid) life isn’t! More importantly, we serve a God who is always watching, is always in control and rewarding those who look to him. The psalmist experience can be ours, even when life is unfair. We are hidden in the shadow of God’s wings.
Another encouragement to live generously (to get equal pay for unequal work) comes to us from the book of Job. Even though Job’s friend, Zophar, missed the big picture, he reminded us that we cannot always understand the mystery of God. Job rightly took hope in the character of God because you find true wisdom and power in God.
Let’s be a people who practice extravagant generosity; people who embrace the economy of Jesus where the last will be first, and the first will be last!
Director of Field Engagement & Support for the Western Canadian District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada