In the parable of the vineyard workers, the owner of the vineyard hires workers early in the morning. And then hires more workers, several times during the day. At the end of the day, the owner pays each of the workers a full day’s pay. Even the ones who only worked the last hour.
And the ones who worked all day are mad about it.
Jesus ends the parable with the vineyard owner – who represents God – asking, “Are you envious because I am generous?”
If I’m honest, I have to say “Yes. Yes, I am.”
Like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son, I take this stuff seriously. I work hard. I listen to God. I try to do things right. I help others when I can. I don’t cause trouble.
So when I see someone who’s a hot mess, someone who (as far as I’m concerned) isn’t really even trying to do things right, skid in at the last moment and receive the same graces as me. Maybe even greater graces.
I can go from zero to hateful resentment in 1.3 seconds.
That reaction says something about me that’s pretty ugly. I’m comparing myself to someone else. And I’m judging me to be more worthy of God’s grace than they are.
It’s a dangerous thing to do, making that kind of comparison.
Not only will it rob you of the joy of the graces that you have been given. If it goes unchecked, it will drive a wedge between you and God.
Our only hope? Replacing comparison with gratitude.
I’m not talking about some passing moment of thankfulness or some vague notion of appreciation.
I’m talking about following the example that Jesus gives us over and over in the Gospels.
With a deliberate, active gratitude. Stopping what we’re doing. Taking our time. Saying thank you to God for each and everything that you and I’ve been given.
None of which we deserve. If we’re honest.