What’s your idea of fairness? Matthew 20:1-16 teaches us that our personal concept of fairness may not always be in agreement with Gods. This parable goes a long way toward opening our eyes to the heart of a God who is much more than fair.
In first century Israel there was so much to do whether planting, cultivating, or harvesting the vineyards. It was hard physical labor working in the heat of summer. And so the owner of one vineyard went out very early in the day to hire workers. At 6:00 in the morning he hired laborers for a whole denarius, a Roman soldiers pay for a day. At intervals throughout the day three more groups of laborers were hired all for the same pay. They were grateful for their work until this climatic moment. What! Is it fair to give all the same amount? “Those fellows worked only one hour and yet you’ve paid them just as much as those of us who worked all day in the scorching heat.” Matthew 20:11, 12 TLB
Do we have the right to dictate how the landowner pays his workers? Wasn’t his decision to pay the same an act of mercy? Our demand of fairness from God reveals more about us than we would like. Could this be exposing attitudes of selfish ambition and pride? “The world’s definition of fairness is based on the sliding scale of society’s values and the changing will of the majority. But God doesn’t buy that definition. That’s why He will never be ‘fair’ from society’s perspective. His values are higher, far exalted above yours. His timetable is different… that’s why I praise you for being just, not fair.” Joni Earekson Tada
As believers in Christ we must put aside a competitive spirit and think like Jesus. In Jesus’ day people often felt superior because of their heritage or faithful obedience to the law. But salvation, God’s great act of mercy, is not an elite privilege for a few but a worldwide invitation to all. As we struggle in a world that often lacks attitudes of mercy and justice we can remember Jesus gives us something far greater than fairness. He lived the sum total of mercy and justice. This is the wonderful grace of Jesus.
Wonderful Grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free;
O the Wonderful Grace of Jesus reaches me!