“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” (Matthew 20:12, ESV).
Jesus, the master storyteller, spoke of a fictitious vineyard. The owner hired day laborers at different times throughout the day. Some were hired in the morning, some at lunch, and some in the afternoon. Some were even hired shortly before quitting time.
When the owner paid up at the end of the day he gave those who’d worked only one hour a full day’s wage. Those hired early in the morning grew excited. They imagined they’d receive much more than a full day’s wage. They deserved more than those who’d showed up at the end of the day, after all.
But they were shocked to discover the same payment. “You have made THEM equal to US,” they said. They felt they deserved more, for they had borne the burden of the day. They had worked through the scorching heat. Certainly their labor was worth more.
But this master didn’t oblige. “Did you not agree with me on you wage?” He asked. He had not robbed them in the slightest.
I think the attitude of the early morning laborers often creeps into the modern heart. This is part of the reason church leaders have a hard time celebrating the next generation. We remember all the work we’ve endured. We remember the hard times, the scorching heat. It can be difficult for people who’ve gone through years of service to have joy for those who’ve come recently.
But Christ rewards us for our faithfulness to the hours he’s asked US to work. Not THEIR hours, but OURS. We don’t choose when we are born, when we are called. We cannot choose the generation we are part of. It makes no sense to begrudge someone for the hour they showed up. He is a good Master, and however He rewards us is grace.
My whole life I’ve heard of the glorious days of the Jesus Movement of the 60s and 70s. Born in 1978, I missed it entirely. But I’ve heard the stories. At times, I’ve been envious of those days, wishing I’d been there. Now my temptation is to belittle the millenials behind me. But all of this is futile, for there is a work to do today.
My resolution: Do MY job, because I certainly cannot do anyone else's.