Once there was a woman who decided to build her own house. She knew nothing about building houses but she thought it couldn’t be that difficult, so she bought a nice plot of land and started to dig. However, she made a big mistake, she built the house very quickly and on a swamp with no foundations. And while she was asleep it collapsed and fell on top of her. She woke to find bits of the ceiling in her mouth and the toilet nowhere in sight.
So she decided to try again, this time she bought a bit of land that was good and solid, and this time she decided to get some help. So she went into the nearby town and found some people sitting around on the bench in the town square.
“I want some help to build my house,” she said. “I want it done properly with good foundations and a nice little fountain in the garden.”
But the people seemed reluctant to help. So she scratched her head, had a think and then said, “I’ll pay you all £200 if you’ll help me.” Suddenly – they weren’t so busy, and they leapt up, signed a contract and started work on the house.
At coffee time she went into town to buy some doughnuts for everyone and she spotted a large group of people on the bench in the town square. She asked them if they wanted to earn a few quid. They all leapt up and she had to buy twice as many doughnuts.
At lunchtime the woman went into town to buy some veggie burgers. She spotted some more people in the town square. She asked them if they wanted to help her build a house. And so they leapt up and helped her carry the veggie burgers back to the building site. At teatime she went in for some cream cakes and saw another crowd in the town square. A group of workers that nobody else would hire. So she asked them if they wanted to help her as well. By the time they’d finished work the building site was full of weary workers and empty food bags.
The woman said, “Come and collect your wages.”
The tea time recruits lined up first and the woman paid them each £200.
“Excellent!” said the lunch time recruits, “we’ll get twice as much.”
“Cool!” said the coffee time recruits. “We’ll get three times as much!”
“Even better,” said the morning recruits, “we’ll get four times as much.”
But they didn’t, they all got £200. There was nearly a riot.
“It’s not fair,” they said. “We’ve worked all day and only got the same as the people who just did a bit at the end.”
“Oh dear,” said the woman, “I must have made a mistake.” And she scratched her head and looked confused. So the woman took out their contracts and had a look.
“No, that’s right,” she said. “Look, you agreed to work all day for £200. It says so here.”
“Yes, but that’s not fair…” they said.
But the woman shook her head and said: “There’s no mistake. It’s my money, if I want to be generous that’s up to me. There’s no need for you to get jealous about it.”
Some of the workers went away grumpily, thought about this, and changed their minds. But others grew increasingly angry and never helped the woman again. Still others are still chewing on it and considering what to do…
Matthew 20 vv 1-15, Matthew 7 v 24 and Luke 23 vv 39-43