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My Version of Fair

My Version of Fair

Matthew 20:1 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…

I am unsure of the origin of it, but we have a saying at our house that expresses an exaggerated sense of unfairness:  I always, you never…  When we feel that someone is unfairly shirking responsibility, we apply this phrase.  I always empty the dishwasher, you never do it.  I always mow the lawn, you never…

We are exquisitely tuned to unfairness when it works against us.  You will never hear anyone in our house (including me) say, You know what, you always clean the toilets. Let me do it.  It’s only fair that I do it occasionally.  We are never offended by unfairness that works in our favor.  We are only irritated when unfairness negatively impacts us.  I always, you never…

Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard, exposed this skewed sensitivity for unfairness.  In the story, a landowner hired workers in the morning, agreeing on a day’s wage for their labor.  Throughout the day, he went out and hired more workers, agreeing on the same wage.

At the end of the day, when those hired first saw that those hired late in the day were paid a full day’s wage, they assumed they would get more.  When the time came for them however, they received exactly that which they had agreed upon at the beginning of the day.  This greatly offended their sense of fairness.

They were paid exactly what they agreed upon, but when they saw that others received the same, for less work, they were offended.  Those who worked for an hour did not complain.  This worked in their favor.  Those who labored all day could not see that they were paid fairly.  They could only be bitter about those who worked less.  I always do all the work.  You never…

My version of fairness is not actually fair at all.  My version of fairness is simply this:  Whatever works out in my favor is that which I will consider fair.  I am so biased and focused on me, that I can only see injustice when it negatively impacts me.

If I were the worker who received a full day’s wage for an hour’s work, I would think it grand.  If I were the one who worked all day, I would be seething with the injustice of it all.

I do not naturally thank God for that which He has given me.  I compare what I have to what He has given others.  I do not naturally thank God for his mercy and second chances for all.  I get annoyed when others keep repeating the same mistakes.  I, who have been forgiven so much, get frustrated with recurrent destructive behavior in those around me.

In my self-focus, I see unfairness.  I always, you never… It is only when I take my eyes off me and focus on God, that I can clearly see his love and forgiveness.  It is only when I turn to God, that I can rejoice in his mercy and grace for us all.

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