I really wanted to write about the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard today since it only appears in Matthew’s account of the Gospels. The fact that it gave me an opportunity to run to the Urban Dictionary was an added bonus. I love the Urban Dictionary, it absolutely cracks me up. So, tonight’s definition is: Hater. Here is what our street slang reference says:
Hater: A person who feels anger and/or jealousy for someone who has succeeded in something they have worked hard for. A person who speaks badly, and/or takes negative actions in attempt to create problems for a successful person.
Matthew 19: 9-12 reads: 9“The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12‘These men 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.’
The workers who spent the entire day working in the vineyard yet earned the same wage? Haters. They experienced anger and jealousy because the workers who arrived late in the day had the same success or reward as they had even though they worked longer and harder. They even began to speak badly against these workers saying that the landowner had made them equal thus implying that they felt they were some how better or more deserving.
How often have I been a hater? Often. I hate to admit that I get jealous of others, sometimes even angry, when I perceive that they receive more blessing than I have. More money, better marriage, more career success, more recognition (a big one for me), or more opportunity. I work hard for what I have and for what I am trying to hold together and sometimes it makes me angry when I see things coming together easily for other people.
Now let me step into the confessional for a moment: I am especially susceptible to being a hater when the object of my envy is a non-believer. I remember what my life was like before I became a Christian. It was a directionless life for the most part however; there were some aspects that were easier. There are lots of things that the Spirit in me urges me to reconcile, battle, deny, forgive, accept, submit to. Following that direction is usually hard work for me and I admit feeling resentment when good things come to those who, in my mind (or imagination) aren’t putting in the time or the effort that obedience to the Spirit requires of me. That resentment can turn to anger especially when my hard work still leaves me with difficult, unresolved situations or problems.
The rest of the parable was a good reminder for me. Matthew 19:13-15 reads: 13“But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
Didn’t I agree to work for a denarius? If I recall correctly my agreement was to pick up and carry a rather large, burdensome cross. And in exchange I would receive grace, mercy, and love more abundantly that I could ever imagine. I was never sold a ‘health & wealth’ bill of goods. I agreed to surrender myself in exchange for a crown I wouldn’t get to wear until I saw heaven. The question of equal pay is really a question of grace. I need to repent from feeling jealous or angry when others are given some of the grace that He has so generously given to me. I am grateful for having all of the blessing that I have been given even if it has taken some commitment on my part. In other words: Don’t be a hater.