Matthew 13:13 Jesus said, “This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”
A parable is a short story with a big idea. Jesus told parables to convey what the kingdom of God was like. Parables were the way in which to illustrate principles that are important to God!
I find the parable found in Matthew 20 as very appropriate for our day:
- For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 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.”
This parable was spoken by Jesus to both bring us an understanding of God’s character, and as well, reveal the hearts of men. This story was aimed directly toward those people whose righteous entitlement and reward-mentality tainted the grace of God while elevating their own idea of what was right and fair.
I dare say that many of us can carry around an unconscious attitude that says; “if I am good enough, work hard enough or even give enough to God, He will balance the scales and reward me accordingly.” Granted, not that any of us really ever say something like this out loud, but the idea that God owes us for our righteousness seems to take up residence sin all of us.
It seems like we have all been born with a little “justice meter” that quickly sounds off when something doesn’t seem fair. How many times have we said…come on Lord, enough is enough when we’re going through a rough patch in our lives?
I think that most of us want God to be nice and “play on our terms.” Yet, have you ever read a scripture that says God was nice? Heather Zemple in her book…Amazed and Confused says; “Most of the time, we see God acting in ways that is anything but nice! He floods the earth, kills Egyptian babies, makes Hosea the prophet marry a prostitute named Gomer…wow God… really?
And when Jesus shows up in the New Testament, being the exact representation of God, he’s not always nice either! ‘He tells a guy that if he buries his parents, he cannot be his disciple. He tells a Phoenician woman that she is not worthy of his assistance and labels the Pharisees as white washed tombs.
God never claimed to be nice, nor, shall I say, fair; yet He does claim to be just and loving, which is quite different. He also claims to be good, holy and as well as a consuming fire. God’s justice and our ideas of fairness are not mutually inclusive of one another. I hate to say it, but when our justice meter points to being fair, fairness usually favors us.
In this parable Jesus says; “Friend, I am doing you no wrong…Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? For the last will be first and the first last.”
The bottom line is this, God does us no wrong…even when life does not seem fair. He is generous and will graciously give what he gives. We all stand on the grace of God from previous generations and how we see God’s grace will always be limited to our short-sighted perspective. I’m thankful that God does not treat us according to our idea of fairness and justice as I’m convinced it would be exceedingly less than what He will ultimately bestow on us and the generations that follow us!
- Isaiah 55: 8,9 says, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God is fair and just toward all mankind!
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