Updated: Jul 3, 2021
I was doing a bit of reading today, came across an article talking about the NBA superstar Kevin Durant. The article was taking about a 1 word response to a superstar soccer player contract, I think it actually just expired, but the moment drew a reaction again from Durant. The contract was for better than 600 million dollars. Not to shabby! Durant response was "insane!" I certainly would concur. Durant's contract was for just a meager 164 million.
This got me to thinking about how easy it is to compare your success based not on your own fulfillment but on what others receive or dont receive. The result is a lack of satisfaction and lack of joy. Now it is easy for me to consequently sit on the sidelines and say how crazy it is for someone making 164 million dollars to be amazed at what someone else makes, yet the story is a human one not limited to so-called elites of society.
Jesus tapped into this same human tendency by using a similar concept in the vineyard workers parable in Matthew 20:1-16. The parable presents a story where a vineyard owner hires people to work throughout the day. Each time he and the laborer agree on compensation. It happens to be the exact same amount "a denarius a day" no matter what time they started working. In the end the first people who were hired were upset and felt cheated because others were paid the same as they were paid. The point Jesus was making was profound in stating that the things of God belong to God, and he can give them to whom he chooses. The secondary lesson draws from the idea that they got what they were told they would receive. They were not cheated as they had supposed.
Here is the interesting point of this parable, had there not been later groups who got paid similar to the early group, the early laborers would have went away pleased. Same money, same labor, same pay. The difference is that they felt cheated when they gazed upon others.
My point here is not about money, and its not about how we decide the value of labor, but how we view what we have in this life. What has God blessed you with? Does it become less when we see someone else who has more? Something different? Do we count ourselves as less valuable because we minister (good question my fellow preachers) to a smaller congregation than the guy down the street? Do we see ourselves with less significance because someone can what we do more effectively?
I certainly want to be successful in life with what I set out to do, but someone else's success does not diminish my own path, nor does it diminish yours. Give it some thought.
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain." - 1 Timothy 6:6