"But the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair" Relient K, "Be My Escape"
For family devos a while ago, we read Matthew 20:1-16(NIV):
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
"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."
Daniel and Camila are always trying to make things be fair... The day we read that passage, Dad mentioned how God will always be fair (the workers agreed to one denarius, one was the normal day's wage, and they got one denarius for their day's work) but He's also generous at times.
I started thinking about how everyone (well... mostly kids) wants life to be fair, and how people say that life isn't fair... And I realized; I don't want life to be fair. The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair. I want grace! If life were only fair, we wouldn't have grace. If there wasn't grace, I would be dead. (I'll let you decide what I mean by that) Grace is getting what you don't deserve. Hardly fair, right?
And mercy. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23a) I know what I deserve, and I'm so glad God's mercy means I don't get it.
So mercy and grace. I'd say that both of those things aren't fair. But yet, where would we be without them? I, for one, am glad life is not fair.
Isn't it amazing, that God had a way of remaining just, merciful, and gracious? I'm not going to try to figure out if He's "fair", but then, He's not going to say "I'll give you one denarius" and then not when we've done the day's work, right?
Another thing this passage made me think about; All the workers got the same reward. Even those that had come almost too late. I don't know about you, but that comforts me. It gives me the impression that even if I fail and don't start following God faithfully until later than others, He's not going to treat me differently. The first workers who grumbled, they said that He had made them equal to those who only worked one hour. I'm happy to know that even if I don't start until the third, sixth, or eleventh hour I'll still get what was promised.
Maybe that last deduction/paragraph isn't something that was supposed to be made, but it seems to me to be a logical one.
As Paul said though, "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!" (Romans 6:15) Should we wait until the eleventh hour? No. We don't know when the twelfth hour will come. Who knows if I even have one more minute? Also, I don't know about you, but I'd rather spend 12 hours in God's vineyard than 11 hours loitering (or 11 in another's vineyard, which is more likely) and only one in God's vineyard.
"No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62)