When my kids were little I often heard, “That’s not fair!” reverberating through the house. Depending on the day and the circumstances, the declaration may have been huffed at a sibling, playmate, or parent.
Of course the offended child determined what they believed to be fair or not fair. I usually responded with – even well into their teen years – “Life is not fair so you might as well get used to it.” As I’ve learned about God and His ways, I’ve discovered that He is not fair either. And I’m so glad.
Just this morning I read one of Jesus’ parables in the twentieth chapter of Matthew that clearly illustrates this point. The Parable of the Vineyard, which Jesus uses to teach Kingdom principles, is about a landowner who hires laborers to work in his vineyard. Although the landowner hires workers early in the day, at mid-day, and late in the afternoon, at day’s end he pays them all the same wages.
The workers hired early complained. “It’s not fair! We worked more hours that the others!” But the landowner’s response was firm. “Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take it and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be angry because I am kind?” (Matthew 20:13-15, NLT).
Jesus’ story shows us how the Kingdom of God operates. God treats all those who receive Christ the same. It doesn’t matter if we come early or late in life, all those who have a saving relationship with Jesus will receive eternal life. Whether you spend your entire life serving God or give your life to Christ on your deathbed, you will spend eternity with Jesus. By the world’s standards that may sound unfair. Yet, God has the ultimate authority and the right to make the rules.
Praise God that He does not operate as the world does. If He practiced “fairness” like the world would expect, then all of us would be headed for eternal punishment. For that’s what our sins deserve. Instead, our kind and merciful God sent His Son to suffer our punishment. And God offers us forgiveness and grace. Now, that is certainly not fair. We benefit from God’s unfairness.
How has God demonstrated unfairness in your life recently?