Reading: Matthew 20: 1-16
Verse Eight: Call the workers and pay them their wages.
In the parable today the going wage is a denarius. It was the standard pay for a day’s labor. For the vineyard workers, four of the five groups received generous pay. They had worked three, six, nine, or eleven hours less then the first ones hired. All four of these groups walk away happy with their pay.
The fifth group – those who agreed to a denarius and those who worked the longest – receive the same pay. In a way this too is generous. They began the day with nothing to do and were fortunate to be hired. But what they agreed to does not sit so well with them. As each group of workers receives their denarius, their unhappiness grows as they come to realize all are being paid the same. In complaining to the owner, they voice their grumbling relative to the ones who worked only an hour. They speak of the ones who best ‘prove’ their case. Yet I think they did not think the groups who worked three, six, or nine hours deserved a denarius either.
God’s grace extends to all who labor for the kingdom of God. There is no minimum time required before one can begin to draw on grace. There is no cosmic scorecard somewhere in heaven that determines how much grace each person is allotted or tracks how much we have earned. We are each given as much as we need. We are each given the undeserved and unlimited gift of grace anytime we need it.
Our churches are filled with people from all five groups. Some have just begun to draw on God’s grace. Others have been living in His grace for 10, 30, or 40 years. Still others have been living in God’s grace for as long as they can remember. Many of these receive grace like most of the vineyard workers. They receive more than they deserve and walk away grateful for the owner’s generosity. May we each respond to God’s grace the same way, realizing we are receiving more than we deserve, walking away grateful for God’s abundant Grace in our lives.