I think everyone struggles with the apparent unfairness of life at times. I know I’ve certainly had my fair share of moments. I’ve always tried to live a life of conviction. Not to say I haven’t messed up, because I have in some very big ways, but I have fallen into the sinful trap of thinking that it isn’t fair that someone else gets something and I don’t when I try so hard. Or why God seems to make some people’s lives just fall into place and I often seem to have to do things the hard way.
This morning I read the parable of the vineyard workers (Matthew 20:1-16). To be honest, I’ve always struggled with this story (and the story of the prodigal son for similar reasons). In this parable, Jesus tells the story of people who were hired to work all day at a vineyard. At five o’clock, the owner of the vineyard, found others who weren’t working and hired them to finish off the day with the others. They all received the same pay. I always struggled with this. Why shouldn’t the people who had been working all day get more? Why were those who came to work when it was over be rewarded the same amount? With the story of the prodigal son, why does everyone celebrate only the son who left and came back – what about the son who was there the whole time doing what he was supposed to be doing? (Read this parable in Luke 15:11-31) As someone who (unhealthily) often feels she must be everything to everyone, this rubbed me the wrong way. Whenever I read these stories I was focused on the people who were overlooked. However, when I read the story this time, a specific verse stood out to me. When everyone had been paid the same, those who had worked all day complained about the seeming unfairness of the situation. What was Jesus’ response?
“Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?” Matthew 14:15b
As someone who highly values kindness, this really stopped me in my tracks. I read this one line several times. Was I jealous of God’s kindness to others? I had never looked at it this way before. I looked at it as God rewarding or paying others; I had forgotten about one of the key aspects of God’s nature and something to which He calls us all: kindness. How often had He showed kindness and mercy to me? Often. And are any of us worthy of a payment or reward from Him?
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty of our sins.” – Romans 3:23-24
Seems pretty simple. I get to live because of His kindness. I get to live in the confidence of His infinite plan and love. So, why do I become jealous of His kindness to others? This is how I am going to try to view things moving forward. When someone tells me something that, in the past, I would have internally cringed at the unfairness of the situation or the ease of their life, I am going to work at being grateful for God’s kindness to them and His daily and eternal kindness to me.