Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’
We all struggle with entitlement. We look at those who have more material wealth than we do and we immediately think “they didn’t deserve that.” We begin to think it would be more “fair” if we all had closer to the same amount of stuff. Actually, that’s pretty much the complete opposite of “fair.” Jesus’ Parable of the Vineyard illustrates the spiritual truth that we all receive the same ‘riches’ (i.e. eternal life) because our reward isn’t based on our work.
At the same time, it also reveals the truth about tangible wealth as well. The master is the one who owns the wealth and he is free to pay whomever he wants whatever he wants. He is not unfair or a cheat, he agrees with them what he will pay in advance, and then he pays them. There is no external entity or group of individuals determining what is ‘fair’ other than the one who is paying for services and the one doing the work.
Christians shouldn’t act like this, not simply because it’s wrong, but because we’ve all been given so much in Christ. Do what you say, say what you’ll do, be a person of your word (Matt 5:37; James 5:12).