What is Fair?

Sam Petitfils

“Take what belongs to you and go.  I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.  Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?  Or do you begrudge my generosity?” (Matthew 20:14-15)

We often hear the expression, “Well, that just isn’t fair.”  Perhaps someone got away with something we got busted for, or a seeming laggard somehow manages to get ahead in life. “That isn’t fair.”  When we hear that, to whom do they direct this remark?  Perhaps they direct it to God, without knowing it.  Since God directs all things according to His purpose (Ephesians 1:11), we know that He has a role in all of this.

In the parable of Matthew 20, certain vineyard laborers grumble at the master of the house because those laboring for a mere hour received similar wages as they who bore the brunt of the entire day.  But the master’s response was not what they expected.  In essence, he replies, “Yes, I’m fair, because I gave you what we agreed upon.”  This parable shows us some keen truths:

1) God remains in control with all the rights and privileges of sovereign Lord.  
Grumble as we may, we must recall our roles: we are servants; He is Master.  He may do what He deems right with His own.

2) God always does the right thing.
The Bible portrays God as a perfect being, too pure to behold evil (Habakkuk 1:13).  That means He does not ever mistreat people, abuse or use them for improper purposes, nor does He ever make any mistakes.  Our God always does the right thing in each situation.

3) We don’t have all the facts.
God does not owe us any explanation of why He treats people the way He does, but we need to remember that we don’t have all the facts.  Yes, at times it seems that He lets some off the hook while penalizing others for their actions, but we lack key facts and we also lack perfect justice, too.  God does not lack these things.  If we knew what God knew, and we were perfect as God is, we would always rejoice in His actions, all of them.

We need to remember the key question: Has God been fair to me?  The answer is obvious: of course He has. He rescued us from our own ruin, raised us up to sit with Him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6), and plans to show His kindness to us throughout all eternity (Ephesians 2:7).  We need not fret because others seem to win out over us, or we feel we were stuck with something less.  Trust me, we weren’t.  God only gives His children good (Psalm 84:11; James 1:17) things, and in that we can rejoice.

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