“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 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 the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 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.”
I have recently reflected on this passage of scripture, stopping to celebrate that it’s never too late in our lives to get engaged in the work of God’s kingdom. In reading this parable that Jesus once used to talk about God, I am also stuck by what it teaches about the “righteousness” of God.
When the people who were the first to head out into the fields received the same pay as those who hadn’t arrived for work until the 11th hour, they accused the Master of being unfair to them. He quickly informed them that he had honored his commitment to them. That’s what was right. And then he went on to ask if he wasn’t “allowed to do whatever he chose with what belongs to him. Should they be envious that the Master chooses also to be generous?”
The righteousness of God comes from the fact that God will always play by the rules with us, giving us what is right. And the extravagant righteousness of God comes from the fact that God also goes the extra mile in gracious generosity. For that, we all are blessed.
Dear Lord, thank you for showing us Your mercy and grace, as You continue to shower upon us grace through our Lord and Savior Jesus, in whose name we prayer. Amen.