In service at NCC today, Pastor Heather shared a take on the Parable of the Vineyard Workers that is a little different from the typical ones. (I highly recommend you listen to the whole sermon.) I have to admit that while I believe every bit of it, I don’t like all of it. I want to side with the workers who had been there all day and ask God where His generosity was to them. It’s great that He displayed His generosity to the ones who only worked an hour. And it’s very just of Him to pay what he committed to those who started at 6 am. But again, if I’m one of the early workers, where’s the generosity to me? Doesn’t that sound awful? I think it does. But I can’t deny that’s what was going through my head as Heather preached this morning. If I do, I’ll never get to the bottom of it and figure out how to let God replace it with His understanding and perspective.
Maybe one of the keys to a new perspective is understanding, as Heather indicated, that God is not in my debt. He’s already displayed amazing generosity to me by paying the debt I could not. What I’m really due – the “wages of my sin” – is death. Not this life that I’m blessed to be living right now, in His presence and in relationship with the Creator of the Universe.
Another perspective altering statement came from Pastor Jason. He made the point that if the all-day workers never knew of the payment made to the others they would have been thankful for what they received. It was the ‘sideways energy’ they put into comparison that diverted their full attention and thankfulness from the just and generous master.
How often do I negotiate with God, reminding Him of all I’ve done and all I feel that I’m due? It happens much more often than I’m proud to admit. I let comparison and feelings of being owed something more divert my attention. It limits my ability to focus on Jesus and all He’s done and given already. How can I live a life of worship when I’m continually wondering what I’m getting next?
Needless to say, this message struck a chord with me. Not the easy kind, but the kind that challenges me to get with Jesus and find out what He has to say about where I am – and where I’m going.