Today: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

It's not fair!    (10/8/2017 )

It’s easy to feel hard done by sometimes.  Often life doesn’t treat us fairly.

It’s not fair that he isn’t as clever as me and yet has landed such a good job and is earning far more than me.  it’s not fair that she should have suffered so much.  it’s not fair that they have better holidays…

Children will tell you immediately if they think they are not being treated fairly - “It’s not fair!” It’s an age-old complaint - life is not fair!

Sometimes unfairness needs to be challenged.  It’s not right that people doing the same job should be treated differently.  It’s not right that people should be penalised for no reason.  It’s not right that people should suffer through no fault of their own or be taken advantage of because they are powerless to resist.  Some inequalities need to be challenged.

But Jesus told a story that puts all this in a different light.  It was about some workers who were hired for a day’s work, and then some other workers who were taken on right at the end of the day.  The first worked all the hours of the day, as agreed.  The latecomers only worked an hour or so.  The first expected a full day’s pay.  The latecomers were due just a fraction of that.  (The story comes in Matthew 20, verses 1-16.)

The shocking unfairness in the story is that the man who hired them paid the last lot exactly the same as the first.  Those who had worked and sweated all day protested - “But it’s not fair!”  And we agree, it wasn’t fair!

At one level though, Jesus might have been talking about a ‘living wage’.  In that culture where day workers were dependent on a day’s work and a day’s pay, not being able to work for a day and not being paid could be disastrous - the whole family suffered.  The employer was recognising their need.  it wasn’t so much what they deserved, but what they needed.

it’s easy then to see that this is a message about God’s generosity.  If God were totally fair to us, giving us what we deserve or had earned, we’d probably be in trouble.  But he treats us on the principle of generosity and grace, not as wage earners.

It’s a message about God’s compassionate nature.  The person who turns to God in a final extremity is received and treated on exactly the same basis as the person who has served God with lifelong devotion.

That in turn is a reminder that we cannot earn God’s love or favour, no matter how hard or long we try.  What we receive from God is entirely out of his love and kindness.  It’s also reminder not to leave turning to God until the last possible moment.  Because God has loved and been generous to us is reason to serve and live in thankfulness for as much of each day as we can.


Lord, forgive me when I want to bargain my way into your favour, when I imagine that because I have done some good, you owe me something.  But thank you that, poor as my life and love for you is, you don’t hold that against me, but you are loving, generous and gracious still, because that is your nature.  Thank you.

Return to archive list


Site map
Copyright © 2019 Church On the Net.