Anyone else like things, to be fair? My wife is the queen of fairness and does everything she can to have a fair world for our kids.
I like fairness, but I also know it is not always possible, so sometimes I think I lead the girls a little more like "Lord of the Flies' than I do like Mandey, who loves fairness and ensures it happens.
For those of you who are like my wife, this story is hard to read and not get you all fired up, right?
You read through the story and want to respond like the workers in Matthew 20:11-12.
“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.’”
Matthew 20:11-12 NIV
But this isn't fair!!! We worked all day in the hot and heat, and they only worked an hour. Why do they get the same that we got?
This thought screams a message of justice - I want what I deserve and I should get exactly what I deserve - but as you look through the details of the story, that is precisely what happens in the story. These individuals who were hired first were hired with a contract.
"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 for the day and sent them into his vineyard." Matthew 20:1-2 NIV
He said if you worked for me all day I agree to pay you a denarius, which, in those days, was a fair wage for both employer and employee, but if you look through each of the remaining times that he goes out, he simply says, "trust me I will give you what is fair" as he hires them.
At the close of the day, this could have been a nothing issue, but he intentionally pays them in reverse order so that everyone sees what the others are getting.
Even though the first group of laborers agreed to a set amount because of the landowner's generosity, they assumed that they now deserved more. Earlier that day, they were happy to get what he offered, but now, compared to the 11th-hour workers, they became dissatisfied with their pay.
We could apply this in all kinds of ways with our eternal reward that comes to believers no matter when they come to faith, whether it was a believer who came to faith like me at an early age or the sinner on the cross next to Jesus at the conclusion of his life.
We could see that God has extended His grace from the Jewish people to the gentiles and all people, but today I want to challenge us with the thought of envy.
These first workers became envious of the landowner's blessing, which is a place many of us can easily slide into. We can look at the lives of those around us and compare ourselves to those people and think that God owes us more or it isn't fair that they get that opportunity, that blessing, that possession, because I deserve it more.
I first want to caution us about the thought, "I'm not getting all that I deserve from God," because if we are truthful, we aren't.
We deserve the consequences of our sins, and the scriptures say that is death, but through the gift of God, we have eternal life. Today, I want to be intentionally thankful that I haven't received what I deserve and express my appreciation for the generosity of God.
What's so difficult in this story is that these first workers hired had no thoughts about the 11th-hour workers who probably just like them, had families, had needs, and were perhaps hand-to-mouth individuals, so they would have quickly felt the effects of a day of not being hired to work in the fields. So instead of being frustrated for what those 11th hours received, why couldn't they be happy for the blessing and provision that came their way?
I read a study that came out recently about Facebook envy. It is the "painful feeling one gets when they realize other people's lives on Facebook are more interesting, joyful, and worthwhile than ours." The Happiness Blog research project found that "Facebook makes users dissatisfied and envious. One-third of people felt worse and more frustrated with their lives after going to Facebook. Almost 30% felt envy was the major reason. Envy ranked the highest in causing Facebook frustration."
So it looks like the first workers hired aren't alone in feeling like we deserve better. Today, can we be intentionally thankful for the grace we have been shown and celebrate the blessing of God and the unmerited favor of God that we see in the lives of others?
Have a great day, and we will see you tomorrow.