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Author Topic:   Parables 101
Phat
Member
Posts: 14732
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 1 of 229 (148589)
10-09-2004 3:08 AM


I propose a thread that allows us to ask each other our interpretations of various parables in the Bible spoken by Jesus.Crashfrog and I had a discussion over a parableHERE.Before I add any more, does anyone have any other comments on the Parable of the Workers? I will repost it to get this thread started, as well as some of the initial responses. Admin: I propose this to be a topic for Faith and Belief. Are you OK with that?
Here was the first parable and some of the discussion connected with it:
NIVMatt 20:1-15 writes:


"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. "About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?'"'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. "He said to them,'You also go and work in my vineyard.'
"When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' "The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.
When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.' "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?


What does this parable mean to you?
crashfrog writes:

That the path to heaven is not faith, but works.
Seriously, though, the reason that the employer is wrong is because he's a liar:

quote:
He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.'
But then:
quote:
'I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'
He didn't pay them what was right, he paid them what he wanted to pay them, and tried to claim that that was right.Nobody gets to decide for others what is right and wrong. I see this as a powerful parable of how the employer will try to screw his workforce.
Crashfrog and I did not see this parable the same way. I thought that the offer was fair because the ones hired first got paid what they were promised. To me, it did not matter. Crashfrog asserted that the value per hour was different and thus discriminatory for the early workers. It is interesting, because in my life now, I recently got a job with Safeway. Safeway has many old timers who have worked there for 30 or more years and are making top wage of $15.66 hourly. I was given the same wage because I had prior experience with another unionized chain. Some of the safeway people who are not yet at top wage thought that my promotion to top wage was unfair. It is a provision in the union handbook known as prior experience, however, so they have no argument. From a human perspective, I would agree with them if someone made more than me, but as to the fairness of it, why is it unfair? If we all worked at a grocery store and the janitor stood around for 7 out of 8 hours, (which they do) are we mad that they get paid for doing nothing while we must work to earn our pay? After all, we all make the same wage.

This message has been edited by Phatboy, 10-09-2004 02:37 AM


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AdminNosy
Administrator
Posts: 4754
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Joined: 11-11-2003


Message 2 of 229 (148629)
10-09-2004 7:03 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
sidelined
Member (Idle past 4599 days)
Posts: 3435
From: Edmonton Alberta Canada
Joined: 08-30-2003


Message 3 of 229 (148638)
10-09-2004 9:26 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
10-09-2004 3:08 AM


Phatboy

So you are saying that you make a wage comparable to the people who have been there thirty years and yet if you were not making money then you would complain? Is it not the right {according to the parable} to be paid whatever the holder of the money deems correct?
Why don't you break up the union as there is no need according to the parable because the parable states that the one with the money dictate what should be paid.Do you have benefits? If so were they the result of bargaining through the union or was it something the person with the money felt they would pay you.
You earn 15.66 per hour yet if the man with the money came to you and said he would pay you 5.00 per hour then would you bitch and complain or should you follow the teaching of the parable.

I am really interested in your opinion on this.


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 Message 1 by Phat, posted 10-09-2004 3:08 AM Phat has responded

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Phat
Member
Posts: 14732
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 4 of 229 (148649)
10-09-2004 10:46 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by sidelined
10-09-2004 9:26 AM


Hi, sidelined. The parable mentions no difference in the amount of pay to each worker. The parable only differentiates the time worked. It would be as if two people made $20.00 an hour and one worked ten hours and one worked an hour and both received $200.00 paychecks.
sidelined writes:

So you are saying that you make a wage comparable to the people who have been there thirty years and yet if you were not making money then you would complain?

Yes, alas. I am very blessed/lucky to have gotten those prior experience wages. The employer was not going to pay me top rate when I went in, but when I found that the union backed prior experience wages, they relented. If I were one of the store vets, I may grumble a bit about the newbie making too much, but in the context of the big picture, what difference does it make? (although the issue would change were the chain to hire 500 people at top rate)And as for crashfrogs complaint that some people work less and get paid higher per hour wages, is this not life? I can't stand managers who make more than I do and yet who stand around looking important. I will not say that it is unfair, however, for the janitor works harder than I do and makes half what I make. The parable pays everyone 1X amount but some work 1/3 T while others work 1T.

This message has been edited by Phatboy, 10-09-2004 09:50 AM


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2148 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 5 of 229 (148656)
10-09-2004 11:36 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
10-09-2004 3:08 AM


Unfortunately, trying to understand a first century parable in a 21st century mindframe doesn't always present the right picture. I never understood it until I understood the Jewish setting for the story.

Also remember that Jesus was teaching a religious lesson to those who already believed in the religion itself and its principles. In this one the Jewish principle of helping those less fortunate than yourself and not seeking a reward for yourself when serving God.

This parable is placed after the rich man asked how to get eternal life and said he already followed the commandments. Jesus told him to sell all and give it to the poor. The man didn't want to part with his riches. The disciples then asked what was in it for them since they had given up all to follow him.

In that age, workers were paid daily. So the day laborer was someone who waited around to be hired. Without work their families would probably go hungry. A denarius was just enough to provide food for a laborer and his family, but probably not for very long.

The first group knew what their pay was and agreed. The later workers did not know what their pay was, but were willing to work anyway. So when the landowner pays the workers, he gives the beginning bunch what was agreed and chooses to give the later ones what is fair. Some would argue that it isn't fair for one man to have a lot of money and another to have none. The landowner probably gave the later groups the same amount so their families wouldn't go hungry. He gave them more because he wanted to.

Although our farm was small, my father used to do the same thing during haying season when we had the money. He looked for those who were out of work and paid a good wage for the day. It was his way of helping those in need who wouldn't take charity.

Now remember the beginning of the parable is: The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner...

Jesus was comparing the generosity of the landowner to God who gives just rewards.

The workers in the story show how followers should serve God out of love rather than guarantee of receiving a reward.

This parable doesn't work as a corporate analogy as you were attempting.


A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

This message is a reply to:
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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 158 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 6 of 229 (148669)
10-09-2004 12:46 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
10-09-2004 3:08 AM


You never told me what you think happened to the merchant the next morning when he went to the square again to look for workers.

Do you think he found anyone willing to work longer than the last two hours of the day? Why do you think that might be?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 10-09-2004 3:08 AM Phat has responded

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Phat
Member
Posts: 14732
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 7 of 229 (148677)
10-09-2004 2:29 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by crashfrog
10-09-2004 12:46 PM


so you are saying that word gets around?
crashfrog writes:

You never told me what you think happened to the merchant the next morning when he went to the square again to look for workers.

I know your point. If word got around about the pay scale, everyone would theoretically want to hook up at the end of the day, right?
Do you think he found anyone willing to work longer than the last two hours of the day?
I am sure that some agreed to the offer. In those early times, it was not like labor ready. Those people needed to eat. The job was more than just a quick buck. It was a lifestyle. You are suggesting that his reputation concerning fairness got around,eh?
Why do you think that might be?
human nature. You forget, though, that only the early hired workers had any gripe. They at least knew that he paid them. Perhaps, rather than spreading gossip about the landowner, the early hires from the first day may hold out in the hopes that he ask them to work at 3 p.m. so that they can breeze through two hours and get paid for a day! Eight, crashfrog? Let me give YOU a new parable. You work at a Hotel. Lets say that the wage is uniform and standard. You make ten dollars an hour for eight hour shifts,OK? Everybody makes $80.00 a day and in your world of fixed value for fixed service, everyone punches a clock. Lets say that SOME of the employees stand around and chit chat with the manager for 4 hours a day, while others, like you, have to keep busy. Who are you angry at: The employees who are lazy, or the manager for letting them be lazy? How would you attempt to make it fair?
1)Stand around like they do?
2)Try and become a manager yourself?(ye shall be as gods... )
3) Insist that the lazy workers be docked for doing no work.
Just curious, crashfrog. The fact is, no two people work the same way.
============================================
purpledawn writes:

This parable is placed after the rich man asked how to get eternal life and said he already followed the commandments. Jesus told him to sell all and give it to the poor. The man didn't want to part with his riches. The disciples then asked what was in it for them since they had given up all to follow him.

What does this mean? Are you trying to bring up a new parable for discussion, Purple Dawn? Or have you confused two different parables..The Rich Young Ruler is the one you are thinking of, I think.

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 158 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 8 of 229 (148686)
10-09-2004 3:48 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Phat
10-09-2004 2:29 PM


If word got around about the pay scale, everyone would theoretically want to hook up at the end of the day, right?

Indeed. A fair pay scale benefits everybody - the workers don't feel like they're getting screwed, and the merchant is able to attract the labor force he needs.

You are suggesting that his reputation concerning fairness got around,eh?

Instantly.

The fact is, no two people work the same way.

No, of course not. But there's a difference between people slacking off a bit, like your hotel folks, and a level of inequity actually inherent in the wage scale.

People who do the same "amount" of work should get paid the same. Obviously, in the real world, that doesn't always work, but we should strive for that, don't you think?


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2148 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 9 of 229 (148690)
10-09-2004 4:14 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Phat
10-09-2004 2:29 PM


Same Parable
What is labeled in the NT as "The Rich Young Man" is not a parable but a conversation which takes place before the parable of "The Fair Employer." (The NIV calls it "The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard")

The conversation with the Rich Young Man and the questions by the disciples of Jesus are what initiated the vineyard parable. As I said it was a religious teaching.

The argument you are having with Crashfrog is unreasonable, mainly because it's not the point of the parable, and because the workforce today functions differently.

You yourself said that your new employer was not going to give you the higher pay until you found the prior experience ruling. The employer did not give you more pay because he thought it was fair or out of the goodness of his heart. He didn't give you more money just because you were destitute. He didn't have an option.

Like I said, you can't apply the parable to a corporate situation of today.

Crashfrog is right, pay should be equal according to the work done.

Off to a wedding, back later!


A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

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Phat
Member
Posts: 14732
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 10 of 229 (148706)
10-09-2004 6:17 PM


Next Parable: The Shrewd Manager
Luke 16:1-9,NIV writes:

Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.'
"The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg- I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.'
"So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'
"'Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied.
"The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.' "Then he asked the second, 'And how much do you owe?' "'A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied.
"He told him, 'Take your bill and make it eight hundred.'
"The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

This parable blew me away when I first read it. It was almost as if Jesus was encouraging dishonesty! I later understood the context. What about you people? Any comments?

This message has been edited by Phatboy, 10-09-2004 05:19 PM


Replies to this message:
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Rrhain
Member (Idle past 564 days)
Posts: 6349
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003


Message 11 of 229 (148707)
10-09-2004 6:26 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Phat
10-09-2004 10:46 AM


Phatboy writes:

quote:
The parable only differentiates the time worked. It would be as if two people made $20.00 an hour and one worked ten hours and one worked an hour and both received $200.00 paychecks.

But then they both don't make $20/hr. One makes that rate while the other makes $200/hr.

You seem to be equivocating among pay rates. There's what people are "worth," what people are "offered," and what people "expect." You seem to be jumping back and forth among all three as the need suits you.

Too, there seems to be a disconnect as to what was contracted. Was it the job or was it the effort put into the job?

For example, if I want to have a document typed up, I might offer $100 to the person who does it. If you're a poor typist, it might take you all day, but the contract is to complete the job, not the amount of effort you put into it.

Nobody would be upset if I then gave a similar document to somebody else who can type like lightning and gets it done in an hour and pay $100 for that, too. This is what's known as "piece work." You get paid by the physical output you create, not by the amount of time you put into it.

So the question is: Does the parable contract for the job or for the effort?

quote:
And as for crashfrogs complaint that some people work less and get paid higher per hour wages, is this not life?

Are you saying we shouldn't work to make life more fair? It is futile to try and improve the lot of the world because it is something that can never be accomplished?

quote:
The parable pays everyone 1X amount but some work 1/3 T while others work 1T.

Which, if the contract is for effort, is unfair.


Rrhain
WWJD? JWRTFM!

This message is a reply to:
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Phat
Member
Posts: 14732
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 12 of 229 (148714)
10-09-2004 7:13 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Rrhain
10-09-2004 6:26 PM


Rrhain, you make a good point. Lets examine this parable.
Does the parable contract for the job or for the effort?
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. "About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went.
1) Notice that the first men hired may have negotiated a wage. They were looking for pay, and the landowner agreed on a wage.
2) The second group were standing around doing nothing. He offered them a job. No negotiations apart from agreement.(what is right)
quote:
When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.'
Why did the owner want the last to be first? Hmmmmm....If he had paid the first hired first, chances are there would have been no awareness of unfairness and thus no controversy.

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tsig
Member (Idle past 1600 days)
Posts: 738
From: USA
Joined: 04-09-2004


Message 13 of 229 (148717)
10-09-2004 7:31 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Phat
10-09-2004 7:13 PM


not about money
The parable has nothing to do with money. It says that no matter when you enter the kingdom on heaven you will get the same reward.

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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 2148 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 14 of 229 (148841)
10-10-2004 7:47 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Phat
10-09-2004 7:13 PM


Fair Employer
Since you persist on this path, you would probably understand it better if you kept it in the agrarian situation presented.

They are only hired for a day (the latter ones part of a day).

To keep it simple let's say this landowner has 50 rows of grapevines each roughly half a mile long.

Let's say the first group had 10 men in it. Their task for the day is to pick the grapes, put them in boxes (or whatever they used back then) and then get those boxes to a common area. (barn, winery, etc.) So when these gentlemen were hired, there were 50 rows worth of grapes to be harvested and hauled. Each would have to harvest 5 rows by the end of the day.

The owner then goes out at various times and brings in more workers. Let's say 5 workers each time. In doing this the owner has reduced the total amount of work the original group would need to accomplish during the day. So with the addition of workers, the original group may not have to haul the harvest, but just pick etc.

Notice they are only grumbling about the men hired last, who only worked one hour, not the others hired during the day.

Since the workload of the original group was lessened by the addition of workers, they could possibly have lost money if they renegotiated their agreement.

But as I said earlier the point is the generosity of the landowner to the those hired last.


A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Phat, posted 10-09-2004 7:13 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
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Phat
Member
Posts: 14732
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 15 of 229 (148865)
10-10-2004 10:55 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by purpledawn
10-10-2004 7:47 AM


Re: Fair Employer
purpledawn writes:

Notice they are only grumbling about the men hired last, who only worked one hour, not the others hired during the day.

And also notice that the ONLY ones complaining are the first hired. This parable can get deep. The first hired are like the Jews. The Jews originally were chosen, and, in effect, made a "contract" with God.
Jer 7:23 writes:

but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.

The ones hired in the middle of the day would be the Christian Church. They agreed to be paid "what is right." The ones hired at the end of the day could be likened to jars sheep/goats example. They are the non believers of the world. The ones "standing around." Just a thought on all of this. God extends His Grace to the most disinterested atheist or non devout pagan as much as He did His people. The first shall be last and the last shall be first.

This message is a reply to:
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