My scripture text today will be coming from Matthew 20:1-16. One of the most resounding things in my memory is my mother telling me, “Karen, life isn’t fair.” I have carried that with me throughout life. The only thing I can say about it is that she was right. Life doesn’t seem to be fair. In fact it seems to be quite the opposite of fair. I have been turned down for jobs because I was of the wrong ethnicity. I have been denied a promotion because I was the wrong gender. I have often been denied employment because I was under qualified. Sadly I have also been denied employment because I was over qualified. That one really didn’t make any sense at all. I am sure I am not the only one who has experienced life this way. I know that there are some of you who have been turned down for a loan because the loan officer had a bad day and didn’t want to deal with you long enough to finance you. I know there are cell phone owners here who have been charged for a little thing called roaming when you didn’t think it was just but you couldn’t argue your case enough to get it removed. There may be someone here today who was accused of something and felt the consequences just so an example could have been made of somebody by your boss. The thing you noticed is that even though you are working and doing the best you could the slacker across the way got off without even a confrontation. I am sure that I am not the only person in this room who as a kid with a sibling thought my parents treated me unfairly at times in comparison to the treatment my brother got. I know I am not the only sister who received my brother’s spanking. I guess it is a good thing that my brother does not have the opportunity to tell you about all of my spankings he received because as for now it makes me look better. The cold fact is that life isn’t fair. The more we try to please someone the more we stand to be let down. People are human in that they have their own way of viewing situations. They can have a “skewed” view of reality that keeps them from seeing all sides of reality. They can have their own opinions which may immediately charge the man in a conflict between a man and a woman or to vote for the white guy in a battle between races. Truly and undeniably we are unfair people living in an unfair world. The good news however is that God is fair. If we will learn to hold on to Him, even when we don’t understand the path He is taking, it will turn out alright in the end.
God is a God of Grace. That is something we simply cannot understand as humans. God can see the big picture, he is omniscient, and that is something we can only dream about. God is just in his generosity which is a trait we don’t possess.
While on a trip to Switzerland, an America businessman was watching a Swiss clockmaker carving the case of an ornate cuckoo clock. As the businessman watched the clockmaker carve out the case, he was astounded at his slow rate of progress. The businessman finally said, “My good man, you’ll never make much money that way.” “Sir,” the clockmaker replied, “I’m not making money, I’m making cuckoo clocks.” Notice the difference in the two men’s goals. The businessman was after the pay check and the clock maker was after the joy of a job well done.
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ’You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ’Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ ’Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ’You also go and work in my vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ’Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against 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.’ But he answered one of them, ’Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last."
Notice: These guys hired to a new job each day.
- Those first hired worked hard for about 11 hours, had endured the heat of the desert all day and they were paid one denarius
-Those last hired worked for about one hour, had lazily stood around in the marketplace all day and they too were paid one denarius
-The vineyard owner owned the vineyard, all the wealth for the day’s pay was at his disposal and he had grace for the guys hired last but was just and fair to the all day guys.
This not just a story about some guy in a vineyard. Notice verse 1. "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner…”
-God is the land owner, those hired in the morning are like the old saints, those hired at the end of the day are like those who are saved at the last minute (Death-bed confessions)
We may not find it fair but God is just and he calls this fair. We are not graceful but God is full of grace. In his book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace,” Phillip Yancey points out that part of our problem is in the nature of grace itself. Grace is scandalous. It’s hard to accept, hard to believe, and hard to receive. Grace shocks us in what it offers. It is truly not of this world. It frightens us with what it does for sinners. Grace teaches us that God does for others what we would never do for them. We would save the not-so-bad. God starts with prostitutes and then works downward from there. Grace is a gift that costs everything to the giver and nothing to the receiver. It is given to those who don’t deserve it, barely recognize it, and hardly appreciate it. That’s why God alone gets the glory in your salvation. Jesus did all the work when he died on the cross.
TWO things I hope we can take from this message today....
1. We should be grateful of this grace. We didn’t deserve it. It really is unfair because we deserve Hell but God has chosen to show us His grace.
2. We should follow God’s example and show grace to our neighbor.
-when someone else gets a break at work assume they need it
-when someone doesn’t get caught just remember the times you didn’t
-when someone gets off easy just pray for them that they will respect it
DON’T WISH PAIN ON PEOPLE FOR THE SAKE OF FAIRNESS…pray for grace for them. It will make you feel a whole lot better...and it won't hurt them either.