Yesterday I tried to find a few words to say on the gospel passage of the hiring of the workers for the vineyard. It seems a strange one! Employer goes out early in the day, hires workers, agrees a wage and sends them to work. Later he goes out again, hires more and sends them to work as well. He repeats this a few times and eventually hires some workers almost at the end of day. He pays all the workers the same wage, leading to grumbles from those who worked the full day. They expected to earn more than those who had worked for just one hour. The employer disagreed. He told them he had agreed a wage with them and paid that wage so where was the justification for their grumbles? Fair point! It was understandable though that they might have expected to get more or that those who were employed later in the day might get less.
It’s another reminder that God’s ways are not our ways. It is likely he admired the determination of those who didn’t give up but felt they had something to bring to the vineyard and that eventually their talents would be put to use. On realising they were not going to be employed, they could have just wandered off to day of idleness, gossip or maybe even destruction. But no, they held on – as I say – in the belief they had something to offer. They were right. They had and, in time, it was noticed and brought into play.
Could it be the attitude of those who started the day differed greatly? They entered into negotiation – a wage was agreed and they knew what to expect at day’s end. Those coming to the vineyard later, struck no deal but were happy to do something productive with their day. It was a bonus to them to be employed and, quite likely, a shock to receive a full day’s wage.
Is this story then as much about attitude as hours of work?