Living not to Impress

Matthew 20: 1-16

I simply asked the class, how would you feel if you were the one’s who had worked all day and received the same pay as the one’s who came on the scene late. Maybe it’s the same reaction we would have…angry, ticked off at the boss, blaming the owner, disgruntled at the “freeloaders”. They had been faithful to the job at hand. They worked the long hours. They toiled and sweated through the blazing sun and heat of the day, and yet, they were treated the same.

We may never acknowledge such thoughts and feelings within us as they often pass so quickly, but for many, it is such negativity that grows deep within the heart and soul, souring us to any good that may have been done, discounting the good in our own lives, all because we have compared ourselves and our worth to what we had done and what we had earned.

At the same time, I asked another question of the students. So what if you were those 5pm workers out there. You work minimally. Idle most of the day. Standing around. Boss comes along and hires you up at the end of the day. First one’s to be paid and you’re getting what everyone else has gotten paid for doing much less. What would your reaction be in that situation?

It may have taken awhile, but finally one spoke up and said, “I’d laugh at them!” “I’d gloat that I got the same thing with much less work!” I’d rub it in, only contributing to the pain already felt by those that have felt that they were unjustly paid and treated.

How about that? Could it be that they all missed the point of what was given? In the end, whether we enter the stage early on in the show or in the final scene, we are all human and can be held back by what lies within us, that, in turn, we often use on others to get our own way. Did they somehow know that they’d get the same pay? Why couldn’t the all-day workers accept what is and not seek worth in their work and what they do?

Don’t we all too often do the same in our own lives? Our entire identity ends up being caught up in what we do with our lives. Our identity and our worth is tied up in doing, that somehow we are going to “prove” our worth to God and earn God’s love and grace, only to be left disappointed because not even God can live up to the standard we have created for ourself.

It doesn’t mean that others get off without their own need for change and conversion. The late-comers aren’t exempt, as long as they are human, from needing to let go and change and grow. Like the elder son in the story of the prodigal son, it’s those of us that like to not grow in life but in resentment, anger, fear, and so on that feel taken advantaged of and let down by God.

Yet, maybe that’s the point. There’s nothing to prove. There’s no one’s approval that’s going to push us over the edge. It is only when what we do flows out of who we are that we can truly understand and be one with the other. We don’t have to feel duped and let down by God. We simply have to let God be God, and when we’re open enough to receive it, grace flows freely and expansively in our lives and in the lives we encounter each day.

There’s a good chance there’s a 6am-er and a 5pm-er in all of us but the choice is out of which place in our hearts and souls we will choose to live! Stop comparing and start living life in its fullest today, in and through God’s ever-flowing grace!

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