Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

In one of my favorite stories, Jesus talks about a certain landowner who had a record year. His vineyard had produced triple the usual amount. Picking grapes around the clock, they were still falling behind schedule. Winter chills were in the air, and those grapes had to be harvested. So the landowner decided to hire additional pickers to bring the remaining crop in.

Early in the morning the landowner started hiring and offered a very generous pay. Highly motivated, the pickers went right to work. As the day wore on, more and more crop workers joined the crew – in the morning, mid-morning, around noon, in the afternoon, and late in the afternoon. – They had exactly one hour of daylight left when the last pickers arrived. Apparently the land owner had made up his mind to get every last grape picked by the end of the day.

And so it happened. The crop workers picked the vineyard clean right before the Sun went down, and they were done for the day. At a table near the exit the landowner sat down to hand out a full day’s of wages. Starting with his most recent hires, he gave the same pay to every worker. Celebration was in the air; everybody was happy – except for the guys who were hired first. They began to complain to each other: “This is not fair! We have done most of the work, why should everybody receive the same amount of pay?” – “Do you have a problem with my generosity?” The landowner asked the incensed crop workers, and this is how the story ends.

“Do to others what you would have them do to you” is the Golden Rule in a nutshell. Jealousy changes it to: “I’ve done this for you, now I expect you to do this for me.” That’s no Golden Rule, that’s blackmail.

Busy comparing, jealousy nourishes a constant undercurrent of unhappiness. Personally I think the Golden Rule does not work if we don’t know God. Basking in God’s love we are rich – and won’t have a problem with His generosity.

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