Summary: The parable of the laborers in the vineyard teaches us many things but one great thing that it teaches us is that we as Christians cannot be envious about what others have or when they get saved. We should be overjoyed when someone gets saved.
God’s Living Wage
Another Labor Day weekend is upon us. And while I know that some of you are no longer in the workforce per say anymore, you are still working at lots of different things aren’t you? Like James for example hasn’t worked for the phone company for quite a few years but he still works on his farm with his cattle.
Some of you are in the workforce and wish that you weren’t! Labor Day is supposed to be a holiday that honors all the labors that Americans like us do all year long. While Labor Day will be fun for those of us that are still working at a job for a company because we don’t have to go into work and we’ll still get paid, we still have to get up on Tuesday morning and go back to work.
A lot about labor and work has been seen in the news lately and the world looks at work and labor differently than we as Christians do. For the world it seems that work and what we get paid is all about fairness and equality. The government has established “a minimum wage” that employers are supposed to start their employees out at and go up from there. And there has been a movement for many years now to establish what has been called “a living wage”. What that wage would be varies depending on who you listen to. I have some strong opinions about this so called “living wage” and we will talk about that more in a bit.
But before we get to that, what does God’s Word have to say about labor and fair wages?
In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 20 verses 1-16 we read this: 1“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ 9 When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. 10 When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last.”
Right off the bat I want to help yall understand the times of day in which the landowner went to hire his workers. The first group would have been hired around 6:00 AM or the beginning of the Jewish day on average, the next group that was hired at about the 3rd hour would be about 9:00 AM, the next group would have been hired at around 12:00 noon or the 6th hour, and the next group would have been hired at about 3:00 PM or the 9th hour, and the last group would have been hired around 5:00 PM or the 11th hour.
So the landowner was basically hiring people to work for him at different times of the day. This could be the first time that we see an example of day labor! Here we find men just standing around at a gate in Jerusalem looking and waiting for someone to hire them for the day.
And since the title of this message is God’s Living Wage, I want to spend a little time here talking about what this landowner was going to pay those who came to work for him. He struck an agreement or a contract if you will, with these men. The landowner agreed to pay the men a denarius for a day’s work. The men there all agreed that this would be okay with them and they went to the vineyard to work. The landowner also made the same agreement with all the other groups of men that he hired that day. So far so good right?