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What's Not Fair

8:32 AM

There's not a law against generosity.

Bible Passage: Matthew 20:8-15
8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 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.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’

This is the second half of the parable of the vineyard workers --the first half of it is in verses 1-7. In the earlier part of the story, a landowner went to the marketplace(job seekers gather in the marketplace and wait to get hired) to hire workers for his vineyard. He hired several men that started working at different times---some got hired early---some late---and some very late. Working hours has ended and it's pay time.

In Algebra, we have what we call the 'constant' and the 'variable'. Let's identify the constants and the variables in the story. The first constant we have is the compensation and our first variable is the number of hours they worked. Although they differ in rendered hours --some sweat more, while some are less tired, each worker received the same pay. That doesn't sound fair, you may say. And yes, some workers didn't like that either. They thought that if those who rendered an hour were paid for a day wage then they must be receiving more or double. To their surprise, those who rendered eight hours of work got paid just the same with the others.

Now, let's have our second constant and variable. The second constant is the landowner's generosity and the second variable is the workers' attitude. The landowner's generosity was objective and not subjective. He did not play favorite. Before he even came to the marketplace, he's already made up his mind to pay equal to those who gets hired. The complaining workers, however, wanted to impose their own rule --if one gets a raise, everybody should get a raise. That sounds right, you may agree. But the landowner did not cheat any of them. He did not give a bonus to some---he was being generous---and it just didn't make sense to them.

 Is it reasonable for him to be generous? Let's identify one more constant and variable. The constant was...each one of them needed a job to provide for their family and each one hoped to come home with a day's wage. The variable was...the chance to get hired. If it wasn't for the generous landowner, not all of them could have been hired. That would mean many of them will go home empty handed. When the landowner first came in the marketplace, he already hired enough men for his vineyard. But he passed though the marketplace one more time, he had compassion on those who were not hired and so he hired them. And he kept coming back to the marketplace to hire some more. He saw their need and he wanted to help. He even hired some at 5 o'clock in the afternoon---to work even for an hour. He understood the desperation of those who waited 'til the sun goes down---hoping to get hired somehow, refusing to come home to their families without a dime.

People need not deserve generosity, they simply need it. Rather than to begrudge others, we ought to be happy for the recipient of someone's generosity; rather than to misjudge generous people, we ought to be grateful for them --they are a blessing to the poor---and to the economy.

This is a part two of the story. Follow the link to read part one.

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