Blessed… The Tale of a Poor Businessman

“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After he agreed with the workers to pay them a denarion he sent them into his vineyard. “Then he went out around nine in the morning and saw others standing around the marketplace doing nothing.  He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I’ll pay you whatever is right.’  And they went. “Again around noon and then at three in the afternoon, he did the same thing.  Around five in the afternoon he went and found others standing around, and he said to them, ‘Why are you just standing around here doing nothing all day long?’ “‘Because nobody has hired us,’ they replied. “He responded, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and moving on finally to the first.’ When those who were hired at five in the afternoon came, each one received a denarion. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each of them also received a denarion. When they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, ‘These who were hired last worked one hour, and they received the same pay as we did even though we had to work the whole day in the hot sun.’ “But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I did you no wrong. Didn’t I agree to pay you a denarion?  Take what belongs to you and go. I want to give to this one who was hired last the same as I give to you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you resentful because I’m generous?’  So those who are last will be first. And those who are first will be last” (Matthew 20:1-16, Common English Bible).

I am not going to tell the tale of a poor businessman. This story already tells it. If I learned much of anything during my tenure as a manager in the secular world it was, NEVER, EVER LET EMPLOYEES KNOW WHAT ONE ANOTHER MAKE IN SALARY. When I was working for a cable television company in Houston that his since been bought and sold many times and now the name no longer exists, I learned a whole lot about how not to treat the people I supervised. They were valuable lessons that serve me to this day. And, while there have been times in the almost 30 years since I left that company that the employees I supervised might have thought otherwise, I have tried really hard to live out the things I learned in this days. But, the one thing (really there was probably more than one) that I learned about being a manager from my supervisors was not to let employees know what another’s salary was AND do everything I possibly could to keep them from talking about it among themselves. That part was never a very easy thing to do in reality.

In the story the landowner goes down about daybreak to the day-labor agency and recruits men to come and work for him for the day. He promised to pay them a denarion, they typical daily wage for a worker. Several hours pass and its about nine o’clock in the morning. The landowner is walking through town and he sees more workers hanging around the day laborer’s gathering spot so he recruits them and promises to pay them what is right. They head to his vineyard. Again about noon he heads back to the gathering spot and recruits still more workers, making them the same promise. He makes one more trip back to the gathering place at around 5:00 in the evening and finds still more workers without employment for the day. He sends them out to his field.

The end of the work day arrives and it is now time to settle up with the workers. Now the land owner has the supervisor pay the workers. He instructs him to pay the denarion to ALL the workers, starting with the ones who arrived first. That makes the others excited because they make an incorrect assumption that they will get more because them worked more. Of course, as with most parables, Jesus turns this a bit upside down and sideways.

We almost always tend to make these stories, whether we are in the story or we are reading/hearing the story, about us. For those Jesus was addressing and for the workers in the story, that standard is absolutely true. When the workers who have been there all day find they are getting paid the same as the workers who only put in an hour, they are incensed. They are angry, because they see this as all about them.

From a business perspective, the landowner better have gotten all the harvest in that day. Otherwise, he may have found few willing to work before 5:00. That is why my supervisors taught me to never let employees know what another employee was paid.

But, this parable is not about business. It would have been told differently out of necessity. God tells the story this way because, probably by design, the landowner, who is actually God is a pretty poor businessman. But what God lacks in business acumen (and I again, I believe God doesn’t give a hoot about business), God more than makes up by being a loving Father. God loves the worker that comes to work at 5:00 as much as the worker who had been a work all day. Without the full day’s pay, how would that worker care for his family?

It may not seem fair, but love doesn’t have to be fair. And, since the scriptures tell us that God is love, that means God doesn’t have to be fair. Well beyond whatever we might deserve, God just continues to love us and bless us.

What have you received from God that was beyond what you deserved?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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