“That’s not fair!” My three children bellowed unanimously.
I gritted my teeth in frustration because I was so tired of hearing what’s not fair. So I devised what I thought was a clever discipline/teaching tool to help those ungrateful rascals of mine. I sat at the kitchen table and began writing a list of things that are truly not fair. It took up an entire page of notebook paper. Things like, being born blind, going to bed hungry, etc.
After I finished the list, I had my children take turns reading what I had written. I gave them each three pieces of paper and told them to copy what I had written front and back on each page.
“What? That’s not fair!” My middle son, Chad replied.
I raised my eyebrows and promptly gave Chad an additional sheet of paper. “Anyone else want to complain?”
The room grew silent for the exception of the sound of pencils writing furiously on paper. Content with myself, I went into another room and began to read. The Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder. Well, He actually whispered in my mind.
“Am I fair?” God asked.
“Well, of course. You are God.”
I felt a silence settle over me. Oh, how I recognized that silence from other times when the Spirit is prompting me to learn something. So I sat quietly for a moment. A parable that Jesus told in Matthew 20:1-16 came to mind.
The story starts out like this: “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.”
What happens next is where the story gets interesting. The landowner goes out once again and hires more men at nine o’clock, noon, and five o’clock. When the working day is over, the owner calls all of the men forward for their pay. Now here’s the kicker, the owner pays all of the men the same amount of money! Those who worked all day long received the same amount as those who only worked an hour! As you can imagine, the men who worked longer complained. They didn’t think the owner was being fair.
The owner replied, “‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?”
And Jesus follows up the parable by saying, “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”
The wage situation doesn’t seem fair because all the workers weren’t treated equally. Really what happened was the morning workers “compared” the work they did with the afternoon and evening workers.
Comparing is a subjective measure of fairness. Comparing leads to resentment, anger, a woe-is-me attitude and so much more.
Most of the time when fairness is questioned, isn’t in relation to ourselves?“Is this fair to/for me?”And who’s standard are we using to measure fairness, anyway?
Perhaps what appears to be unequal can be JUST and RIGHT.
“God is right and just; He will be my shield and refuge.” Psalm 18:30
All the workers were paid their promised wage, right? But they didn’t factor in generosity. And they most certainly didn’t factor in GRACE, which is what this parable illustrates.
The owner wasn’t concerned with how long the men worked—He only knew they needed a job. Similarly, God doesn’t see the amount of sin we carry. In His eyes, we are all sinners in need of salvation. We are all in need of grace. (Romans 3:23)
As I contemplated this parable I realized, my kids weren’t the only ones who needed to learn about fairness. This is what I’ve discovered.
GOD IS NOT FAIR.
GRACE IS NOT FAIR.
JESUS PAYING THE PRICE FOR THE SINS OF MANKIND IS NOT FAIR.
When I reflect on these facts, suddenly I’m glad that God is not fair.
My friends, the beauty of grace is it makes life not fair. And I’m Okay with that. I’m Okay with not getting the penalties that I deserve for my many sins. I wholeheartedly accept the fact that Jesus paid the price for them. And furthermore, I will be eternally grateful.
What do you think? Is God fair?