“Are you envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:15)
Imagine your survival depends on the luck of getting hired for labor each day. As you stand at the hiring spot, your hope diminishes and anxiety heightens, as the day goes on and you have no job. If only you had been chosen.
At the 11th hour, a man sees you and asks what you’re doing. You’re honest, so he hires you to work in his vineyard. You know you probably won’t earn much, but at least it’s something.
At the end of the day, he calls you first. It’s as if he can’t wait to pay you. He hands you a full day’s wage. He cares about you, more than the work itself. He’s just glad you came. What had been your worst day, has turned into your best.
But seeing this, those who were hired at the dawn of the day grumble. The owner, turning to one and calling him “friend,” responds, “Are you envious because I am generous?”
This phrase can be translated as “is your eye evil (deficient)...” Instead of celebrating that others had joined the vineyard and all received a livelihood, comparison led those grumbling to see their own good lot as bad.
Comparison can be helpful at times, leading us to learn and grow. But there’s often a risk of distraction — of having a “deficient view” — which makes our good lot seem bad.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”: The early hires’ greed prevented them from recognizing love, so they saw the owner as stingy.
When I catch myself unhappily comparing, particularly what the Lord is doing in someone else’s life, I often find a root of mistrust in the Lord’s provision for me. If I’m struggling when others receive more love, perhaps I’m ignoring my sources of love, or simply being self-centered. Or, if I’m dissatisfied, then likely my gaze is not securely on Him, what He’s doing, and His true identity.
God is abundantly generous with love and mercy, and always gives us our daily bread. He has good plans for us, even if they look different from His plans for someone else. Above all, He wants to be our friend.
Let’s securely trust Him, celebrate His goodness wherever it can be seen, and always will the good of others.
By Paula Lent