“That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. When those hired earlier came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage.” (Matthew 20)
Some of the workers worked a full twelve hour day. Others worked nine hours, some six, and some three. But some of these laborers only worked one hour on this workday. When the wages were being passed out, however, everyone received the same pay. Those who had worked the longest began to scream the loudest. “We should get paid more than someone who only worked for one hour!”
It really does not seem fair, does it?
What would the Unions say?
What would the news shows say?
What would the politicians say?
Fairness is an interesting concept. I think that most people are selective about how they want fairness. I have never heard a kid say, “Hey, that’s not fair! My piece of birthday cake is bigger than his!”
I have never heard a fellow employee at work say, “Hey, that’s not fair! I got a raise and they didn’t!”
I have never heard a fellow Christian say, “Hey, that’s not fair! I got healed and they didn’t! They were sick much longer than me.”
“Fairness” is one of those things that we complain about when things don’t go our way.
If I was one of those workers, I would be complaining too. Most of us would. At the same time, if I was the boss in the story, I would not think it any of their business if someone told me that I could not be generous with my money.
I think this parable is telling us that God never claims to be a “fair” God. He does not play by the same rules that we do. I wonder what my life would look like if God treated me fairly? I am not so sure that would be a good idea. I think that instead of demanding fairness, it would be better to ask for grace.
The biggest lesson that we can learn here is that grace always trumps fairness. Given a choice I will take grace any day of the week. What about you?
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