"He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been
unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and
go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I
do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I
am generous?’ Matthew 20:13-15 (TM)
"It’s not fair!" is one of the first phrases we learn as a child. As parents, we quickly learn the retort, "Life is not fair." Our culture is obsessed with ‘fairness’. We have unions, lawsuits and political platforms founded on making things "fair". Yet, our feelings of "unfairness" are rooted in our pride and our self-centered desires.
Parables have one basic truth they are trying to teach. In the parable of the workers Jesus is addressing the age old question "why would God save the sinner who makes a ‘deathbed confession’ when there are all these people who gave their entire lives of service?" God is good. God is just. God is free and generous with salvation.
When my children used to scream "it’s not fair" in their tantrums, I knew that they did not have the ability to grasp the context of the situation. As a parent I needed to be gracious and help them mature into that understanding. Our Heavenly Father knows all things, and we can trust that He understands the ‘big picture’ much better than I do.