Beyond Fair

Matthew 20:11-15  “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 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?’”

            Sometimes God seems unfair, like the landowner in this parable. He seemed unfair to the men who worked the longest. We look at someone else who has more or has done less, and we think, “I just want God to give me what I deserve.”

Think about that for a moment. Do we really want a God who gives people what they deserve? There are other wages the Bible talks about. “The wages of sin is death.” “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Do we really want no one to be saved?

            Isn’t it better to have a generous God who calls people who weren’t looking for him, who seeks all people regardless of how much time they have to give to him, who keeps his promises and gives his gifts not based on our work but his promise? The way God treats us isn’t fair. It is better. It is generous. That’s because he bases his treatment of us on grace. That extends to his response to our service as well.

            If you won the lottery, would you still work? Maybe you wouldn’t do the same thing you are doing now, but watching TV or going on vacations would get old after a while. I’ve known a few wealthy people. They continued to work not because they needed money. They had enough of that. But free from the need to earn a living they could pour themselves into doing what they loved. That meant doing something meaningful, not endless entertainment.

            In a sense, we have won the spiritual lottery–not a game of chance but the gifts God has chosen for us and given to us. Free from the need to earn our eternity, we can pour ourselves into doing something meaningful and serve the needs of our neighbor’s body and soul. The opportunity itself is a gift. At the end of life’s day, both the service we have given and the reward we receive are the result of his grace.

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