The Lord’s Vineyard

“If we deny him,
he will also deny us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself. (II Timothy 2:12b – 13″)

Imagine if you will a large vineyard outside a small town in Central Texas. One morning the owner decides it is time to begin the harvest. He drives into town to the Sam’s Club, where all the day laborers hang out, and says, “come on folks, I need help in my fields. Its a hundred dollars for the day and I provide lunch.” Well some of them pile into his truck, others get in their trucks, and they follow him out to vineyard.  Soon he has set them to work in harvesting grapes, hauling grapes to the presses, taking out the remains, and generally keeping the vineyard in good order.

Then out by highway a couple of men find that a tree has blown over and blocks access to several rows of grapes. They can’t move it themselves, so they start looking out for help. Pretty soon they see a pickup coming down the road with out of state plates and four big guys in the back, so they flag it down. “You boys want to make some money, come help us move this tree. The owner’s paying $100.00 a day for workers.” The men in the truck like the sound of that and pull over into the shade, jump out and start putting their backs into moving the tree. After a while another truck passes. The driver sees the men at work and she pulls over. She has a chain saw, and so she volunteers to help cut the tree into more manageable pieces. Before long the group of workers are hauling wood and stacking it along the fence line. By afternoon all of them are back to harvesting grapes, making up with extra labor the time lost to the tree.

Finally, as the sun sets, the workers make their way up to main house. There the owner of the vineyard stands, ready to pay his laborers. One of them steps up and the owner says, “Did you give me a day’s work?” The man says “Yes.” But owner has been watching this old boy and sort of clears his throat and says, “Really?” Now the worker knows he’s been caught and says, “Well maybe I did spend some time talking to Jim about his new car, and maybe I did take a little nap in the afternoon, but that was just to make me more productive when I was working.” The owner looks at him hard and says, “Well I promised a days wages for day’s work, and although I’m not sure you gave me a day’s work, you were here all day and I keep my promises – so here’s your hundred.”

The next fellow steps up and the owner says, “I don’t think I know you.” The man answers, “Yeah, I don’t know you either. Me and these boys, we’re from out of state, your men flagged us down to help them with a tree out by the highway and we stayed on to help with the harvest.” The owner said, “Well I promised to pay a day’s wages for a day’s labor, and although I didn’t hire you, you were willing to work in my fields. I keep my promises; here is your hundred, and one each for the others.”

Now just then the owner looks across the yard and sees a guy taking a bin of the grapes and putting them in his truck. The owner says, “Hey you! What are you doing with my grapes? I know you, I called you at the Sam’s club with the others. You work for me – put those down.” The man looks back at him and says, “I don’t work for you. I’m an independent contractor and I’m taking the grapes I picked and going home.” A deep frown crosses the owners face. He looks at the “independent contractor” and says, “If you don’t know me, I guess I don’t know you, but I know my grapes, and you can’t have ‘em. You’d better leave now, and leave grapes behind, before there’s trouble.” The man then shouts back, “If I can’t have my grapes I want my hundred dollars.” To which the owner replies, “I pay those who work for me, even if I’ve never met ‘em. But I don’t owe anything to those work for themselves. Get out of here, and leave my grapes behind.”

And so the man left, and we don’t know if he was still waiting for work the next time the vineyard owner came round Sam’s Club looking for workers, or whether he was still working for himself.

Robert Hunt


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