“That’s Not Fair!”

The Parables of Jesus

April 1, 2022

“That’s Not Fair!”

Matthew 20:1-16

Did you ever split a candy bar with a sibling or friend? One of you would take the candy and snap it in half. Generally, you would look at the two halves, and if you were like most kids, you’d hand the small piece to your sibling or friend. Then there was the inevitable cry of, “No Fair,” because you had kept the large portion of the candy bar for yourself.

Someone at work gets a promotion when you’ve worked there longer. No Fair! The men in your office get paid more than the females do for the same job. No Fair! (That one is ridiculously not fair.)

There are plenty of things that happen in our lives that we can say are unfair. Sometimes they are, while other times, perhaps we’re just jealous.

This brings us to our Parable for today.

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The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius (20:2 A denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer.) for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

 “About nine in the morning, he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So, they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon, he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came, and each received a denarius. So, when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These 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 he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one 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?’

 “So, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:1-16

On the surface, this story does seem a bit unfair, doesn’t it? Some men worked all day, others half a day, while others only worked an hour. Yet, they all were paid the same. Unfair?

Actually, it isn’t unfair at all. The vineyard owner told the early workers what the pay was, and they accepted. It was only after everyone got paid the same did they complain.

But the owner of the vineyard is just that. He’s the boss, and he can payout as much as he wants to whoever he wants, no matter how long or hard they work.

In the Parable, “Jesus points out that God deals with us on the basis of His Grace and love instead of on the basis of what we think is fair and just. If we complain about His generosity to others, we despise Grace.”

(Peoples Commentary Bible, Matthew. G.J. Albrecht and M.J. Albrecht. Copyright 1996, C.P.H. Pp. 284)

Sometimes it’s difficult for us to let go of our human values and egos. We can’t compare ourselves to others. God has a big heart and offers His Grace to everyone.

Who’s, is everyone? I mean everyone. It’s the guy on death row who ask for forgiveness and repents. The person didn’t believe in God’s Grace, repent and know Jesus as his Lord and Savior until he was an adult. (Lee Strobel, the writer of “The Case for Christ,” comes to mind.) And it’s the 80-year-old on their death bed in hospice care, visited by a minister asking for forgiveness and repents of their sins.

God’s Grace is all-encompassing. Whether you’ve been a believer all your life or not until the end, God’s Grace still is there for you.

No Fair? I think not. In God’s eternal Kingdom, His Grace is available and fair for all.

Dear Jesus. So many times, we get caught up in thinking we’re better than others. We look at life through a lens of favorites and reviled. Help us remember we are all the same in Your Father’s eyes, and His Grace is available to each of us, no matter where we are in our lives. Amen.

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