“And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’” (Matthew 20:11-12)
You can probably remember saying as a child, “That’s not fair.” Your friend got to do something or go somewhere or see something, and you didn’t, so you would purse up your face, stomp your feet, and protest, “That’s not fair.”
If you can’t remember doing so as a child, just ask your mom or dad if you did. And if you’re a mom or a dad right now, then you know what I’m talking about.
It might sound strange, but Jesus wasn’t fair. A case in point is found in Matthew 20:1-16.
A landowner goes out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He then goes out several more times during the day to hire more workers. At the end of the day, all of the workers, whether they worked 1 hour or 12 hours, get the same pay. The workers who were first hired have a fit. It just isn’t fair that they are paid the same as those who worked only 1 hour. They are, of course, right. What the owner does isn’t fair.
But that’s the point. God isn’t fair. More to the point. We actually don’t want God to be fair. If God were merely fair, what would we actually deserve? Can you now see the point? We want and need a merciful God, a loving God, a forgiving God, and a generous God. We don’t want, we don’t need, a God who is simply fair.
Fairness is for those who mistakenly think they have earned or merited God’s favor. I do hope and pray that this doesn’t include you. Grace is given as a gift. It can only be accepted as one.
The owner of the vineyard gave each worker what he needed to live. The early workers were resentful of the owner’s generosity. I encourage us to resist being like them. We have a more-than-fair God. Thanks be to God! As His people and as the disciples of Jesus, may we be more than fair to others?
- How has God blessed you with His abundant and lavish grace?
- Accepting God’s grace does come with the calling that we extend grace to others. How well do you share what has been so generously given to you?
- We can assume that the workers who received a full day’s pay for 1 hour of work were plenty grateful. We know that those who received the same pay after working 12 hours grumbled. Therein lies two ways of living: either grateful or grumbling. Which way do you most often choose?