January 18, 2024

More Than Fair

Matthew 20:1-16

“Are you envious because I am generous?”

—  Matthew 20:15

From the time we are little children, we have a keen sense of fairness. So if my mom gave my brother a piece of cake just a little bigger than the one she gave me, I would protest: “That’s not fair!”

Jesus told lots of parables—stories that use familiar scenes and images from daily life to teach about the kingdom of God. These stories are often surprising, and sometimes even shocking. For example, some of Jesus’ parables include outcomes that don’t seem fair—and that can surprise us or even make us upset. But what if fairness is not the point?

In today’s story about day-laborers in a vineyard, the issue of fairness comes up in a big way. When the landowner pays all of the laborers for a full day, no matter how many hours they have worked, the laborers who worked all day protest: “We worked the whole day. The sun beat down on us for hours. Why should the people who worked only one hour get the same pay as we do?” This is certainly not fair. But fairness is not the point.

The kingdom of God is not fair. It’s much more than fair. The kingdom of God is generous. Jesus is a generous King. He gives us all that he promises and more than we deserve.

Generous Lord Jesus, thank you for who you are and for what you do. Help us to be grateful for your generosity to us, and help us to show the same generosity to others. Amen.

About the author — Bob Arbogast

Bob Arbogast is the pastor of Celebration Fellowship church in Ionia, Michigan. In his spare time, he plays guitar in a West Michigan blues band. He and his wife Jan have been married forty years and have three adult daughters. Bob has been praying the psalms since 2002.

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