Tag Archives: Matthew 20

Faith, Following, and Fairness

Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’
Matthew 20:15 (NASB)

During my lifetime I have observed that fairness and equality have increasingly become societal expectations. There are certainly worthwhile issues to be addressed and ills to be confronted, but I have observed that expectations of fairness and equality can easily expand to encompass almost every area of life. It seems at time as though we want same-ness. Everyone should have the same, make the same, look the same, enjoy the same.

On my spiritual journey I have come to accept that the overarching fairness I observe us striving for does not exist in God’s economy. Everyone has access to the Life, love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness which Jesus purchased through His death and resurrection. Once on the path of following Jesus, however, I discover that God never promised that all followers would all enjoy the same lot in life, be called to the same path, or have the same purpose. In fact, God’s self-revelation gives evidence to infinite and creative diversity in being, calling, giftedness, purpose, and experience. The Trinity itself reveals unity in diversity; Three distinct persons – One God.

In today’s chapter Jesus tells a simple parable that addresses this very issue. A vineyard owner hires workers throughout the day. Some in early morning, late morning, noon, afternoon, and some more for the last hour of the work day. The owners agreed to pay them each the same wage. At the end of the day the laborers who worked all day are indignant that the workers who only worked one-hour received the same amount of money.

Hire a lawyer! Call the Labor Board! Organize a union!

That’s not fair!

But, Jesus points out that each laborer readily agreed to the wage when they began. The issue, then, was not the fairness of the employer but the envy of the workers.

In find it ironic that Matthew follows this parable with the story of Jesus’ own disciples having conflict over who among them were Jesus’ favorites and who would get positions of honor in God’s Kingdom. Jesus response matched the parable He’d just told: “Don’t worry about each other’s rewards; Focus on the job you’ve each been called to do.” 

This morning I am reminded once again that my job is not to concern myself with comparisons to everyone else. My focus is to be on my personal relationship with God, existing in the flow of God’s Spirit, faithfully walking the path God places before me, and fulfilling my role to the best of my ability. When I embrace and embody my unique person and purpose, I contribute to the unity of God’s Kingdom.

Chapter-a-Day Matthew 20

Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard: Worker...
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“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 (MSG)

As a business owner, manager, and consultant working on-site in a plethora of different operations, one of the most fascinating things I’ve witnessed over the years has been the way different people respond to time, work load, and earnings.

I’ve witnessed those whose mindset is like the workers in the parable of the talents. They take what they are given, invest themselves in being responsible and earning a return for their employer. Rarely complaining, they work hard and regularly go the extra mile for customers, coworkers and employers trusting that, in the end, they will be duly rewarded for their efforts.

I’ve witnessed others who are like the workers in Jesus’ parable from today’s chapter. They have an eye incessantly on the clock, their co-workers, and their paycheck. Regularly feeling they’re being taken advantage of, they constantly compare their compensation package and work load to others. Effort is made to get away with doing as little as possible for the maximum amount of money, generally complaining at any and every perception of inequity.

Is it possible, even probable, that the type of worker we are on the job translates into the type of worker we are in God’s kingdom? When the Day of Judgement comes, will I be one content when God says “Well done, here is your reward” or will I be getting in queue at heaven’s HR office to file a complaint with the management that the guy who squandered his life and muttered a deathbed confession got a better reward than me?

[Pondering this aside today: Are Lucifer and his fallen angels roughly equivalent to a labor union in the economic system of God’s kingdom?]

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