Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.’
What Does it Look Like to be Content in Everything?
At first read, we tend to side with the laborers don’t we? I mean – we’re out there, working hard through the day, and when it comes time to receive the wages for the work we’ve done, we find out that the bossman is paying a bunch of lazy, good for nothing, barely-workers the same amount! It’s just not fair, and we want what is rightfully ours.
It seems applicable to just about everything, though, doesn’t it? Someone at work with less experience and skill gets a promotion. A fellow parishioner who does essentially the same thing as you – every day – earns more. Or maybe you’re a freelancer, and it just seems like you can’t get traction – you’ve got the skills, you have the work ethic, but you’re just not making enough money to buy that Tesla or 55 inch 4K TV. Sometimes, without even realizing it, I become jealous of those whom I ‘perceive’ to be ‘lesser’ than I because I deserve what they are getting and they don’t.
A denarius, in this context, was a day’s wage for a laborer. It was what was generally accepted to be what was owed to someone who you had hired to complete menial work, and when these individuals were hired, they went in with that understanding – that they would receive a days wages for a days work – regardless of when it started or what they did. Of course, the alternative was to not receive any work – and therefore no wages – but they weren’t happy with the fact that they were paid the rate that they agreed to. I mean, sure the employer could have been more forthcoming with his communication regarding wages to the employees (we don’t see anything in the passage indicating that they were told specifically what they would be paid), but the employees, upon comparing themselves to others, decided that what they received was no longer a fair wage.
The employer is not in any way obligated to explain himself – yet he does so – in an exceptionally loving yet firm manner! And so it is with our own lives – we follow Christ, and we should choose to accept that which He has given us as a result. It is not our place to complain that what we receive is not enough for what we do – we should look to Him and be grateful for that which He gives us – we should be content in what we have been given. It is by comparing our own selves to others that we find ourselves lacking contentment with our own status in life, with our own ‘belongings’ and with our own accomplishments.
What would it look like to be content where you are, rather than seeking contentment in the things, recognition, status, or prosperity that you don’t have?
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?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.” (ESV)
20:1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 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?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.” (ESV)
13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? (ESV)