Many of Jesus’ uncanny parables are known to have an odd yet powerful way of representing kingdom principles that we see in action around us. One of those parables is the one on the labourers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-15).
In summary the story goes something like this: A wealthy land owner hires a few batches of idle people at different times of the day. All batches worked for different lengths of time, yet everyone got paid the same amount: one denarius, a Roman silver coin in the time of our Saviour and the Apostles, worth about 15 cents.
This parable actually tells us a few realities that really strike us about how God brings blessing to all people. Here are just a few:
1. God doesn’t bless everyone alike. Some of us work longer, but we don’t necessarily get more out of it. And then there are those that put out lesser effort but still receive the same or sometimes even more. That’s the reality of life—that we don’t always get an equivalent amount of blessing from God.
2. While we were all like those idle people who were doomed to go a day without anything (in the same way that we deserved nothing but death because of our sin), God—in His infinite grace—still gives us an opportunity at a denarius, which by the way is not that bad even if you worked a full day. A denarius was a pretty steep wage for a day’s worth of vineyard work.
Well, the truth is that some people do get more blessings than others, and it’s not always based on their works. Job was a righteous man but was bombarded with trials. The rich young ruler was greedy, but still rich. Isaac received the promise of God through the covenant made with Abraham while Ishmael was abandoned.
The reality is that God blesses in different capacities sometimes based on merit and sometimes not. It all really just reminds us that He is a God who has a big plan that we don’t always understand, but always know to be good, pleasing and perfect, even if we don’t all get an equal size of the pie.
But it doesn’t mean that since God’s blessing is not proportionate He is unfair. Why? Because the reality is that we don’t deserve any of His blessings at all and yet so readily He gave us all life, provision and even His own Son Jesus Christ, in the same way that the idle people did not necessarily deserve jobs.
But in God’s lavish goodness, He still gives us His blessings. Others might receive more while some others receive less. But that’s not the point. A true heart aligned with God’s will seek His kingdom, not the things added unto us.
The point is that we were once empty handed, but we’ve now all received more than what we really deserve. If that’s not grace, then I don’t know what is.