‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?’ – Matthew 20:13
It is no fun to feel like you have been wronged. That you didn’t get what you deserved, what you earned, what you worked so hard for. The workers in the field who had been there all day surely felt they should have received more than those who had only worked a part of the day or even just an hour. But that wasn’t the agreement, when they were brought to the field early in the morning they had already settled on what they would earn.
I sometimes wonder if it was really about the money. Were the workers ticked at the perception they were being treated unfairly, or were they even more upset by the unchecked mercy and grace offered by the landowner. Grace, mercy, forgiveness offered to those who were perceived as having not earned it, made the workers uncomfortable, they couldn’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea that “the last will be first, and the first will be last.” It is that radical generosity, grace and mercy that Jesus offers to us, and I think that we find discomfort in that because we are not always good at extending it to others. Maybe this is a good season to find the places that we are uncomfortable with the last being first and first being last and extend our grace and generosity there. God doesn’t play by our rules, God doesn’t toss aside those who haven’t earned their keep, God extends his hand in grace and mercy to the least, the lost, and the last and that can be very discomforting for us all.