In one of my favorite stories, Jesus talks about a certain landowner who had a record year. His vineyard had produced a large amount of grapes. They had been picking grapes like crazy, and they were still falling behind schedule. Now it was way down in the fall, and those grapes had to be picked pronto! So the landowner decided to hire some additional crop workers just for a day or two to get this taken care of.
He started hiring early in the morning, and those guys went right to work. He had offered them good pay, a rather generous amount of money really. “This is a great opportunity to catch up on some bills”, one of the crop workers remarked as they started picking grapes. “Well then – pick away!” the other jokingly said.
As the day went on, more and more crop workers joined them in the morning, mid-morning, around noon, in the afternoon, and even late in the afternoon. A few more guys came in at the very last hour. This landowner apparently was serious about getting the job done!
And so it happened. The crop workers picked every last grape off of those vines. Then the Sun went down, and they were done for the day. The landowner sat at a table near the exit of his property to hand out their day’s wages, and everybody received their money. Celebration was in the air; everybody was happy, except …. the guys who were hired first. As it turned out, every crop worker received the same amount, and so they began to murmur among themselves: “Wait a minute! Those guys came in at the very last hour and now they receive the same wages?!” – “Do you have a problem with my generosity?” The landowner asked the incensed crop workers, and here is where the story ends.
Jealous people are no fun! They take the Golden Rule for instance and measure it against you. Secretly they think:
“I’ve done this for you, now I expect you to do this for me.”
That’s no Golden Rule, that’s blackmail.
Jealous people aren’t really that happy either, because they are busy comparing. Unlike arrogant people who think they are better than the rest of the world, jealous people feel somehow slighted; they habitually think that in most regards they come out short, and they clearly don’t like it.
If a group of jealous people had a conversation with Jesus and Jesus would ask them pointblank: “What is up with you guys? Is there anything I can do to help? You don’t seem to enjoy life very much.” Their answer would sound something like this: “How about some fairness when you created us! You have lathered some with gifts and talents, and others you seem to have overlooked. Give to us as you have given to others, that is Your Golden Rule, right?” Jesus looked at each of them compassionately before He answered their question with a question of His own: “Why would you have a problem with my generosity?”
The Golden Rule is not so golden when misinterpreted!
We’re golden if we stop comparing and start with some self-respect. I respect myself and guess what: I find myself respecting others.
We’re golden if we stop comparing and start with some appreciation of ourselves. I appreciate my gifts and talents and what do you know: all of a sudden I find myself discovering and appreciating other people’s gifts and talents.
The Golden Rule works like magic – if we start at our own front door. Learning to love and appreciate ourselves we’re prone to love and appreciate others.