Saturday, 26 January 2013

Concluding wages

Some thoughts from the previous posts:

The recurring theme of the responsibility of employers. In a culture where to have to undertake any form of 'employed' work (rather than managing your own livestock and farmland) was a matter of shame the parable of the workers in the vineyard, Deuteronomy 24 and the account of Ruth demonstrate ways in which those in a position to hire others ensure those in hard times are cared for without demeaning them. The opportunity to work for a day's wages when needed preventing a feeling of obligation or seeing employment as a constant. The old testament principle of gleaning allows those who have no food to sustain themselves through (hard) work rather than handouts or dependence. The generosity of the vineyard owner displays a charitable act, but he only employs those still standing in the market place. Those still looking for work, not those who have already found employment elsewhere or those who have given up. He helps the needy, and those who are willing to contribute their own effort. How do we understand the difference between those who cannot work and those who will not?

The rights to the produce of work should be held by those who have laboured for them, and 'wages' (not necessarily financial) are a right, not a gift. That said, the wages are not the pure motivation in themselves, nor are they always a positive thing (are they, perhaps, to be judged upon the manner in which they were earned?). The merit and intention of work should result from a relationship with God. The 'employed' are accountable for how they conduct their work just as the 'employers' are responsible for how they conduct theirs.

How do we understand the request for 'daily bread' in the Lord's prayer given the woes of a hand-to-mouth lifestyle and the question of idleness?

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