We all admire generous people. These are individuals who freely give and offer help to others, doing so with a joyous and happy heart. Why do we respect such persons?
I think I know why. This models what God, our master, is like.
There is no one more generous than God. Consider the beauty of the universe and the amazing earth upon which we live. From the stars to the mountains to the wonder of watching a hummingbird hover in place, God the Father created all of this for our enjoyment and sense of awe.
For the 16th Sunday after Pentecost, Jesus tells the parable of the master of a house paying all the laborers the same amount for their work in his vineyard. He pictures for us the generosity of God.
In Matthew 20: 1-2, he says, "For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard." A denarius was a fair wage for a day's work.
However, the work day was 12 hours long. There was much work to be done in the vineyard. So the master continues to hire people at the third, sixth, ninth and 11th hour. No reason for people to be idle when there was plenty of work and wages for all.
At the end of the day, it was time for the workers to be paid. Jesus says in verses 8-9: "And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.' And when those hired about the 11th hour came, each of them received a denarius."
Then the resentment began. The parable continues, verses 10-12, "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.'"
In the midst of a beautiful generosity to all, these workers respond with an ugly jealousy. It's like the boy who complains that his brother got a bigger piece of cake. Selfish and petty complaints after experiencing liberality.
Jesus concludes with the overall point of this parable in verses 13-16: "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?' So the last will be first, and the first last."
God the Father created you and me. God the Son redeemed you and me. God the Holy Spirit sanctifies you and me through the Word of God. The Holy Trinity pours out the blessings of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation upon us all, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are overjoyed that he freely dispenses his mercy upon people of all nations, languages and cultures. He is generous to all.
Our generous master enlivens us to be generous servants who happily serve our neighbor with large hearts.