“Let’s get down to the real issue here,” the landowner says. “At the heart of the matter, this isn’t about a denarius or your hard labor under the sun. It’s about your heart. You are upset because I am generous.”
That’s the gist of what the master of the house says to the laborers in the vineyard. The men were upset because the last workers received the same as the first. The men who came early in morning did not appreciate God’s extraordinary grace to the men who came at the end of the day. “Is your eye evil because I am good?” That’s the convicting question the master posed to his men.
It’s a convicting question for all of us.
Are you the type of person who marvels at God’s generosity or gets jealous over it? Are you prone to unhappiness when you see the undeserved happiness of others? Do you begrudge God’s kindness if giving to others the blessing of children, of marriage, of beauty, of wealth, of opportunities?
Obviously we have to steward those things well. We must not be haughty about our blessings or presume that we will receive all the earthly good we want just by virtue of belonging to our heavenly Father. But even with those important caveats, certainly we can affirm that it is the Spirit’s fruit in our lives when we rejoice over the Lord’s kindness to others.
We love it when God is generous with us. And it bothers us when he seems to be more generous with others. You know how you make a kid very happy? Give him a toy. You know how to make him very unhappy? Give his sister two toys. We all like grace, but we want it to be “fair” grace. We want “grace” apportioned as we see fit. We want “mercy” to be given to those who deserve it most—people like us, naturally. But if grace has to measure up or fulfill some calculation it’s not really grace, is it? Do you really want God to be in the fairness business with you? Isn’t it better to accept that everything you have is by grace and all they have is by grace as well?
Our Good Master passes out the denarius as he sees fit, because it’s his denarius. None of us would get a denarius if God didn’t go out into the streets, hire us, promise us his goodness, and then deliver on his word. So let him hire more workers and pay them whatever he wants. A mark of a mature Christianity is that we root for each other. Let God be God and let him be good—on his own terms. He’s been good to you; let him be good to others, as good as he wants to be.