By Lois Parker Edstrom
In the Bible Jesus tells a story that seems to have an unfair outcome. It is about a landowner who went out early in the morning and hired workers to work in his vineyard. The workers agreed with the landowner as to how much he would pay them to work for him. Later that morning the landowner hired more workers. The landowner went out again at noon, mid afternoon, and about an hour before quitting time and hired yet more workers. When the day was over he paid all the workers the same amount of money. Those who had been working hard all day were upset because the workers who had been hired later in the day had not worked as long and yet they received the same amount of money.
When the workers that had been hired in the morning complained (in the words of Jesus) the landowner said, “Isn’t it lawful for me to do what I want to with what I own? Or is your eye evil, because I am good?” (20:15). The landowner is asking the workers if they are angry because the landowner is generous.
Here is the word that will help us understand this story: the word is generous. A generous person is someone who is unselfish and kind, who gives freely, abundantly, and with good will. Generosity refers to something that is rich and overflowing.
Sometimes, when we start making comparisons, we see things that seem unfair. This story teaches us not to be envious of others, but to remember the generosity of God’s love which is offered to everyone regardless of how worthy they are.
We see God’s generosity everywhere in the world. Can you think of examples? Think about beauty of a sunrise, how the colors spread across the sky when we awake in the morning and again, at the close of the day, when sunset colors the sky. Think of all the birds and animals, the fish in our vast oceans, and the spectacular mountains. Think of tiny wildflowers that grow in the fields and the beautiful mosses we find on rocks. Think of the people who love you and care for you. Think of your friends.
Jesus uses the story of the landowner and the workers to teach us to be glad for the good fortune and generosity of others. Remember to give thanks for the generosity of God’s love that is rich and overflowing and is offered to each one of us.
Scripture quotations from the World English Bible
Copyright 2008, Richard Niell Donovan