Life Isn’t Fair….or is it?
Blog – 11-7-18
Today I read the parable of the landowner and his workers found in Matthew 20. If you remember the story, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a landowner who agrees to pay a group of people one denarius to work in his vineyard for a day. A few hours later, the landlord brings some other workers on, and then the sixth hour, the ninth hour, and the eleventh hour he brings other workers into the field to work.
At the end of the day, the landlord pays the workers who only worked one hour the same thing he paid the workers who had worked all day, one denarius. Of course, the workers who had been there all day got frustrated and grumbled about the landowner. “These men who were hired last worked only one hour,” they said, “and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.” Matthew 20:12
I get their grumbling. That doesn’t seem fair, does it. Why should someone who worked a fraction of the time you worked get paid the same as you? Shouldn’t we be paid equally for our time? None of us likes the fact that life isn’t fair at times, and at first glance this appears to be one of those times.
Yet Jesus is trying to show us the bigger picture. Jesus is trying to teach us about salvation, not about rewards for hard work. Jesus is teaching and showing us what grace is all about, a gift given to those who deserve it the least.
Jesus points out that the landowner has the right to spend his money however he wants to, and the workers agreed to work the entire day for a denarius. They were probably happy for the work when they began the job…..until they saw someone they felt wasn’t deserving get the same thing as they did.
Isn’t that how it goes!
The key to this story is found in verse 16 where Jesus says, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” In other words, it doesn’t matter when we find our salvation, whether at the end of a life well-lived or a life lived far away from God, either way we get to go to heaven.
And that may seem a little unfair at times. I think about the man they recently executed in Sioux Falls. My son is a correctional officer there, and he was on what they call “death watch” on the days leading up to the execution. He sat with the man for four-hour stretches of time, making sure he didn’t harm himself. The thing that was exceptionally hard about this whole situation for me was the fact that the man was being executed for killing a correctional officer. That makes it feel pretty close to home for this Mama and pretty scary!
But as I pondered this passage today, I realized again that if this man confessed his sins and sought forgiveness through the cross before his death, even in those last minutes, he absolutely, positively will be with us in the kingdom of heaven. Remember the thief on the cross beside Jesus who confessed his belief and Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
Truth is, if we believe and trust that we don’t get to heaven by works, then we absolutely, positively have to believe that salvation is possible for everyone. Everyone.
And think about it a little bit deeper, if Jesus’ death on the cross can’t save someone like that, then who can He save? His death meant nothing. How prideful we are when we resent God’s redemption and grace for the despised, the outcast, the sinners who have turned to him for forgiveness. Bottom line, we are all sinners in need of redemption.
And the Good News for all of is life IS fair. We ALL get the exact same gift of salvation, no matter when in our life we choose to accept it. Whether we have lived our life trying to serve Christ or we come to know him in our last breath, the result is the same. The extra blessing for us who have known truth earlier in life is we have lived a life infinitely better than those who don’t know Jesus.
I honestly pray that that man in prison gave his life to Jesus before he died. Who knows, he might be dancing with the angels right now.
So let me ask you, have you accepted that gift? Have you laid your sins at the cross? Have you given your life to Jesus? If not, I invite you to pray this simple prayer:
Heavenly Father, I confess that I am a sinner and in need of your grace. I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins, and I invite Him into my heart. I believe and receive the grace that is freely given to me through the salvation offered in Jesus Christ. Amen
If you prayed that prayer for the first time, please let me know. I’d love to celebrate with you!
And let’s all celebrate the fact that life really is fair!
Hugs and love,