Thursday, August 26, 2021

Grace isn’t fair

Matthew 20:1-16…

The setting of this parable was the conversation Jesus just had with the rich man, and the following discussion with the disciples (Matthew 19:16-30). Just before giving this parable, Jesus issued a warning, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” At the end of this parable, Jesus says again, “So the last will be first, and the first last.”  Since this warning both precedes and follows the parable, it is evident that the parable was told to explain the warning.

The story starts out with a normal plot, with a landowner hiring day workers. But as the day came to the end, the landowner did something very unusual. He paid those who had worked the least amount of time the same as those who worked all day. Naturally, the workers who had been there all day complained. They thought it was unfair that the men who worked only a little should get just as much as they did.

But the landowner reminded them of the facts. They needed work, and he graciously gave them a job. He then paid them a fair wage, one they had agreed to. Other workers were simply blessed beyond that, and this was the prerogative of the landowner. There was no law that said he had to pay everyone proportionately. That ended the discussion.

Yet the story isn’t simply about money, wages, rewards, or recompense, but about attitude. The Lord is the landowner, and the vineyard represents His kingdom. We are the workers, and the wages are about God’s rewards for faithful service. But the length of service and the amount of work does not determine what the reward is. God’s economy of grace is not the same as the natural order people expect.

It is when people start comparing what God has given to other believers that they begin to judge God’s fairness. Two things happen when you compare with others: you covet or you complain. You covet what others do have and complain about what you don’t have. The warning to each of us is not to be proud of what we have done and expect more than those whom we think have done less. Anything and everything we are able to do for and in the kingdom of God is simply the result of His grace (1 Corinthians 15:10). We must serve Him faithfully, trusting His just and generous character (1 Corinthians 15:58).

1 comment:

Even So... said...

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