“It’s not fair!!!”
“It’s NOT fair!”
Those three words have peppered the tantrums that have played out in our home over the years. I’ll admit I’ve even said them myself. It isn’t fair. Many things are not fair. Much of life is not fair.
The one who says those words most often is my youngest; she still bears the scars of difficult obstacles she was forced to face even before her remembrance. She struggles with the everyday and the basics on a day-to-day basis. She is the youngest of the Martins and she waves high the banner of unfairness of youngest siblings everywhere.
A few weeks ago I was studying the King’s Book, specifically that of Matthew, and I happened upon the parable in Matthew 20, the one about the laborers in the vineyard. I haven’t always liked it because it seems so not fair. It made me a tad uncomfortable and I tend to avoid things that make me uncomfortable. For this reason I hadn’t really studied it. You can find in Matthew 20: 1-16.
I’ll summarize it.
There was a Master. He had a vineyard. About 6 in the morning he found some workers and agreed to pay them a denarius for a day’s work. About 9am the Master went out again and hired some more workers. He agreed to pay them a fair pay for their day’s work. A little while later, about lunchtime, he went out and did the same thing. At 3pm He did the same and at 5pm the same. At the end of the work day he paid all the workers a denarius. In essence some of the workers worked 12 hours and some worked just an hour, but at then end of the day they made the same wage.
When recently questioned about what I thought about the parable, I admitted I’ve been in the same camp as the all day workers. “It’s not fair!” The Master should’ve paid the one hour workers a twelfth of what he paid the all day workers. I am not a mathematical expert but the lunch time workers should have gotten half a denari and the 3pm worker a fourth. That would have been the FAIR thing to do. Wouldn’t it?
Yet when one reads on, the King Himself says in verses 15 and 16, “ ‘Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
The first will be last? The last will be first…that is so not fair….or so it would seem, but the King’s economy is not the same as my economy and thankfully God is in charge and I am not. It took a change in perspective for me to surrender my “It’s not fair” banner. Because He is Kind and compassionate, abounding in love, He was gentle in revealing this one to me.
If I am completely honest I’ve long held on to the “it’s not fair” because I know that I am an early morning laborer. I came to know Jesus early in my life. I got the same Grace and Salvation He freely gives to someone who comes to know Him in the Eleventh hour of his or her life.
With the all day workers, what I failed to realize was, that they had enjoyed the presence of the Master longer. They had been with the Master all day. They had been able to work and serve the Master for a full day. They had been able to see that Master at work himself, managing and such, doing whatever it is Vineyard Masters do.
Perhaps the Eleventh hour workers were envious of the all day workers. They had just met the Master and had not had the benefit of gleaning from Him, watching Him lead, spending time in His presence. I am thankful that in the Kingdom I am an all day worker, that I have had the privilege of working alongside the Master for the majority of my life, that I have been under His protection and grace for many years. I am grateful that He takes the time to show me a new perspective to an old story that my heart hadn’t always been receptive to and how He reveals Himself continually in His Word. He is a good Master, one who is not fair, because He is better than fair.