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!
Have you found that it’s so easy to give up on challenges and yet so hard to hang on as if your very life depended on it? And you know, it does. But challenges cannot be handled well until we know the One who brings all of life together with clarity and meaning. This insight comes through Jesus’ brand new value system guiding us in every circumstance that comes our way. The foundation of this system is faith, belief in a power that can never come to an end. With faith we can see beyond the world’s way of looking at things to discern the eternal values of God’s kingdom. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure a man discovered in a field. In his excitement, he sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field- and get the treasure too!” Matthew 13:44 LB
Have you discovered that we can be deceived by the temporary benefits of wealth, popularity, and achievement and unable to see the long-range benefits of living in God’s kingdom? For example, isn’t true wealth found in Gods exorbitant grace? With it we have the ability to cope no matter what happens. If this is being rich by God’s standard count me in as a faith mogul. The man in this parable is wise enough to understand that there is a price to be paid for the precious treasure of new life, starting with full forgiveness and living love.
What would you give in exchange for faith? “But all these things that I once thought very worthwhile- now I’ve thrown them all away so that I can put my trust and hope in Christ alone.” Philippians 3:7 LB This incomparable treasure cost the man everything. Where did we get the idea that the greatest treasure would not require the greatest sacrifice? For every person who turns from this world’s values and seeks God’s kingdom there is a profound increase in the ability to see the real world through the wisdom of God’s Word. It’s understanding that all we receive by faith we never lose. Jesus said, “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” John 10:10 LB
The more we live in dependence on Jesus the more life makes sense because someone else carries the worries, fears, and burdens. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 KJV Today the search has ended. The journey for truth is over when we acknowledge the greatest treasure, none other than Jesus, the One who can give it all.
What wonder! What utter amazement that the babe of Bethlehem was destined to be my savior and king. He is the unfolding of the tender mercy of our God. He would shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death. His name was Jesus for He would save his people from their sins. “And the child grew… and the grace of God was upon Him.” Luke 2:40
In manhood the Spirit of God led Him to an old rugged cross where Jesus, innocent of all wrongdoing, died a cruel death. Victorious, His death banished forever the power of sin over our lives. Triumphant from the grave, He secured His rightful place as king upon the throne of our heart. So Jesus became the light of the world. The one preparing a dwelling for us where the truest reality of all is a place called Heaven.
In this year of our Lord, 2015, will you join me in kneeling before the manger in awe and worship. Then together, rising refreshed, ready to faithfully serve with all our loyalty and devotion, the babe from Bethlehem who became our king.
Wouldn’t it be phenomenal to be truly loving, forgiving vibrant people? As believers we are excited because “…when someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun.” 2 Cor 5:17 Entering into this new life we have been given a priceless source of grace to offer everyone we meet. It’s the Jesus life, true living resurrection taking place daily within us. It’s like bursts of resurrection power released and exploding inside. What a joy to be able to count on this great strength when we run into trouble of every kind.
God often does things so differently than we would have ever thought. For instance, when we run into problems loving others we would not have expected that the very challenges when overcome have taught us to love with God’s awesome love. Every believer has a great head start on becoming a resurrection receiver when they accept what Jesus did for them. “No you can have real love for everyone because your souls have been cleansed from selfishness and hatred when you trusted Christ to save you; so see to it that you really do love each other warmly with all your hearts.” 1 Pet 1:22 This fervent love is the result of forgiveness explosions taking place continually. This is God’s wonderful provision for life and happiness.
Remember your position in Christ for “…you are standing there before him with nothing left against you.” Col 1:22 And this is exactly what we are asked to have toward others. “Every person should have a special cemetery lot in which to bury the faults of friends and loved ones.” Anonymous We simply don’t have to live by our own limitations or abilities. Because Jesus’ life is in us He’s done the work already. Let him bring us truly alive, moment by moment experiencing resurrection explosions of forgiveness and love.