As I write this devotional, there has been a good bit of discussion around our house this week about economics. My college kid is writing a required essay for a scholarship that is centered upon the writings of Milton Friedman, the famous free market economist. Therefore our conversations have naturally also included the nature of Keynesian Economics as an opposing philosophy.
The Great Depression – causes and remedies – is a central illustration in all of this discussion as well. It may surprise some of you that I can’t personally remember that event, but my father was a young man with a young family of my three older sisters when that happened. It totally colored his whole life and outlook upon finance, and he talked about it and his experiences a great deal. The big crash happened just weeks after he was married.
He always told me that the one good thing that happened to him throughout that troubled time was that he had a job for the duration of it. It paid a rather horrible salary, especially given his commitments to providing for children and even his in-laws living with him. But compared to those who had no work, he was in good shape.
God’s economy looks very differently than mankind’s financial systems. Though diligence and faithful work in God’s kingdom is rewarded, ultimately even having membership in the kingdom and being a servant of the Lord God is in itself all of grace. The concept of grace is central to the way we should view God’s kingdom.
So, in preparation for Sunday, I encourage you to read through one of my favorite parables in Matthew 20:1-16. And as you do, ask yourself what is fair and just, versus what is unfair and unjust … but remember to use God’s economy as your guide.
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)
20:1 — “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”