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The 11th-Hour Hire I: The Bargain

 ·   ·  ☕ 6 min read  ·  ✍️ Odunayo Rotimi


Key Text: Matthew 20:1-16.
Key Character: Jesus.

The Brief

There are many striking effects with which Christ forcefully projects His viewpoints of the Kingdom of God. Here, the kingdom is compared with a landowner who was into wine farming and needed hirelings to work in His vineyard. The kingdom of heaven, if duly observed in tandem with this symbolic story, will be discovered to be a place of merriment preceded and prepared by labour. Because wine makes the heart merry. We also read that the kingdom is only established when -it has been founded upon joy in the Holy Ghost.

To enhance this possibility, the kingdom of heaven, like a landowner inviting men to himself, disguised itself as a business professional. He went out looking for people to work with. He did not want volunteers as the quality of work could be compromised. He did not desire highly skilled professionals as they may have too many unnecessary contravening advice for Jesus, challenging the modus operandi. He wanted labourers. It is often the case that the most hardworking labourers are the first to hit the streets in search of early hirers. So Jesus met these energetic men who knew nothing about pro-bono. And the following ensued.

The Bargain: “he… agreed with the labourers for a denarius for the day.”

Obviously, since a man was hired at the 11th hour and was accounted only to have worked for one hour, we could conclude that the labourer’s typical workday is 12 hours. This is lent evidence by Jesus’ question to His disciples in John 11:9, where He asked, “Are there not 12 hours in a day?” For this number of hours, the most hardworking labourers entered into a deal of the 12th of a denarius er hour. The terms were duly dotted as they agreed before the work began. At least there will be a take-home that day, there will be palliatives for the wives and children, and they will go home smiling and not frowning out of an empty pocket. All these were their consideration. And the vineyard owner agreed.

We access the kingdom of God in confidence based on the works of God’s Mercy. It was okay that no other persons bargained other than these early risers. Logically, they had grounds to do that, but spiritually they made a sham of their opportunities. To whom does this apply? I speak to early risers who happened to know God early enough and feel God is obliged to use them significantly more than other latecomers. I write to those who consider themselves the most useful to God on the grounds of early life sacrifice to Him. This assumption often leads to men missing the goal of heaven – with its earthly foretaste – which is the nearness to Jesus. Heaven is arranged thus, and positions in heaven are thus graded. The closer you’d be in heaven to Jesus, the more highly-placed you are.

It is true that instead of pursuing this goal, many only come to this fact through many stages of humbling; many others never. We all started out bargaining to be a top minister in God’s service, a renowned healer of diseases, a heavily anointed and famous man of God, etc. To dream of being a bishop is, according to Paul, a good dream, if with a heart of service. But suppose the office is conceived with the conviction of a sense of entitlement in which we feel God is indebted to us due to our early sacrifice of life. In that case, we are on a path to a tremendous loss.

We bargain for a service reward with anointing, popularity, societal influence, superiority, grandiose church crowd, somewhat hardly converted attendees, etc. Will Jesus give all these? Yes, indeed, “For all who asks receives, Matthew 7:8” To be used by God is never a problem. He uses a donkey as well as a man. God uses demons and angels to accomplish His plans. He uses man, the most privileged of all, to execute His counsel. Yet, there can be hirelings unto honour and dishonour in His vineyard, as with “a great house.” - 2 Timothy 2:20.

While hirelings unto honour may dump themselves in reckless abandon as bondslaves, deserving life nor wages, hirelings unto dishonour will boast their way through the “feats of faith” they can achieve by their bargain with God.

Is man deserving of anything from God other than death? Yet someone took that man’s place in death, and He must still be negotiated with to be served. We have a poor business orientation of things that should have been done as the Works of Mercy!

Information happens to be the most influential thing in entering into a bargain. The more sufficient information available to one party, the higher the likelihood of such outwitting the other. Our poor porous sights see only as small as a bit of distance ahead of us. And based on these, we tend to bargain with God. Perhaps, due to problems bedevilling us, storms beclouding our sight from seeing brighter days, or what have you. Contrarily, Jesus knows every fact of a negotiation. He sees more than we can see. He was the one who instructed that not as much as a low-level animal’s mouth must be sealed off when threshing the grounds. Would such not anticipate my need before engaging me at all?

Against a business-oriented or mammon-inspired bargain, what do I do?

The wished response of the vineyard’s Landlord was expressed in the agreement with the labourers whose labour began at least 3 hours later. Sending them into the vineyard, “whatever is right, I will give you.” These latter groups were far more pleasing than the first. But the most delightful of all is the last guys, who must have counted themselves unworthy of anything worthwhile. They entered only on the instruction: “You go into the vineyard.” No bargain whatsoever. Whatever came out of it would have been sufficient. Oh, that our views may be akin to the ideas these last set have of themselves. Every minute they spent bargaining counted against the residual number of hours for which they must work. O that this sense of responsibility and not entitlement may be mine! These ones sought first the kingdom of God, and their rewarding wages became a constituent of “every other thing” that must be added unto it. But the first group negotiated the “every other thing that must be added” and did not add up when added.

Now that His kingdom has come and we are being admitted into labour in it, shall we rather not say, “Thy will be done” and “Here am I, Lord! Send me where thou willst?” And shall our daily bread not be supplied out of supplication other than a bargain?

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Odunayo Rotimi
Odunayo Rotimi