Often, Jesus's parables are difficult for us to understand. Even with explanations. One particular parable that challenges our perception of fairness and equality is found in Matthew, Chapter 20. The parable of the workers in the vineyard. It is intended to give us perspective on Kingdom thinking.
Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. The master finds some in the marketplace and hires them for a fee. Later, he finds more. And hires them – at the same rate. And get this, he does the same thing again. And again. All the workers got the same amount, regardless of length of their work day.
When it came to get their pay ... you guessed it. Those who worked the longest were angry that the short timers got the same amount. So the master says to the complainer, "'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' So the last will be first, and the first last."
From the conversation previous to this parable, we know there is a perspective shared here on God's mercy for last minute conversion to faith. But the application can readily be applied to our sense of fairness.
How do you react to this parable? If you want fairness and equality, this bites you. How is it right and fair that some late arrival gets the same pay as the one who worked all day? We ought to be able to grumble about this. Right?
Think about your own gifting for a moment. How did God bless you? Was it fair you were born or are living in a free nation with benefits galore ... while others are not so blessed? Are you gifted in ways others are not? Do you have all you need for today?
While many examples could be given of how this plays out daily in our work life, let me focus on these points:
- Life is not fair. An early lesson to teach your kids. When it happens, relax. You're going to get your share of unexpected and, likely undeserved, blessings.
- When it is not fair, we get no relief when we grumble, mumble, or complain. Trade a pass ... for personal peace.
- As we are given opportunity to bless others in our sphere of influence with mercy, let's do it.
Bottom line, don't argue with God on the merits of His decisions. Be grateful you're blessed to be called His child. Amazing. Grace.
That's the way WE work. For Moody Radio, I'm Mark Elfstrand.