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Matthew 20:1-16, Laborers in the Vineyard

Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today

Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’
— Matthew 20:15,16

NL Daily Devotion for Sunday, March 17, 2019

by Daniel D. Maurer, Clergy Stuff

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Main Idea: A world modeled after God’s generosity would provide enough for all people.

Jesus’ parable ruffles feathers, both for the followers of his day, but also for us today. For people who work hard for their paycheck, it seems unfair that those who do not work as hard get the same payment as those who do. If you are standing in the shoes of the earliest worker, this kind of indignation at the injustice is understandable.

But what if you are standing in the shoes of the worker who came late? Through no fault of their own, the workers in the story were unable to find work until the landowner came for them late in the day. They worked hard for the time they were there. Is it not a wonderful gift to receive a day’s wage for a partial day’s work?

The interesting thing about this story is that no one was paid less than a fair wage. Everyone was paid at least what they worked; some even more. But no one was left short. Isn’t this a gift of a loving and generous God? That no one is left short?

And what if we stand in the shoes of the landowner? God would be proud if we were as generous with abundant blessings as this landowner was. What if our housekeeper was paid the same as our lawyer? Do they not both work hard? Would they not both be grateful for their pay?

We are currently living in a world where people are not getting paid the same. The problem is, however, that some are being paid less than the day’s wage referred to in this story. Some are being paid far less than the amount needed to survive. There’s a theory among some that those paid the most are working the hardest. But if that were so, the billionaires would be exhausted, and the dishwashers would be rested and relaxed. Unlike in the parable, the current disparity in the wages is not lifting up all the workers. It is lifting up some of the workers at the expense of others. What might your community do to lift up all workers (and those unable to work) so that everyone receives enough to live on?