I’m Not Making Wine

But I’ve been thinking about my vineyard.

No, I don’t have a plot of land with vines and grapes. I’m not planning my custom vintage.

Jesus told a story about a vineyard owner who hired some day workers for a certain wage. Throughout the day – at 9 am, at noon, at 3 pm, and finally at 5 pm – he returned and hired more workers. At day’s end, he paid those hired last the same amount as those who worked all day.

The all-day workers grumbled, of course. How is it fair, they asked, that we worked all day and these guys worked one hour and you pay us the same?

The boss replied that he kept his word. The all-day workers received exactly the amount they agreed on when they were hired. So why should they care if he chose to be generous toward the others?

Everyone knows that’s no way to run a successful business. Companies maximize profit by getting as much work as possible from as few people as possible for the lowest possible cost. It’s simple, practical economics.

The parable describes a different economy, one in which everyone receives a living wage because the owner knows it’s not his vineyard. He didn’t provide the rain and sun, or the school that taught him, or the roads on which he ships his products. He’s a steward, blessed by God’s grace so he can be a blessing to others.

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So, back to thinking about my “vineyard.”

If I’m honest, I’m stunned by how often I cry, “No fair.”

I worked harder or trained longer. Why do they get the same benefit?

Why do they get more attention?

Why should I pay more taxes?

Why should they get free stuff (when I don’t)?

Those basic econ principles are deeply embedded. The obvious profit principle is tough to shake. Subconsciously I’m like the disciples who want a better seat because somehow I’ve earned it.

Jesus explains the economics of God’s kingdom in the last line of the parable:

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36

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