Bible Stories for the Young

God Is Generous and Fair

Don’t Compare


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God Is Generous and Fair : Don’t Compare

One day Jesus told another story to explain what God’s expression on earth is like. He started, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner who went out very early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.”

“Do you need a job today? My vineyard is in need of some tending and I will pay you a day’s wage, one silver coin, for your work,” the landowner offered.

“Yeah, we’ll work for you today for one day’s pay,” the workers answered, and off they went to the vineyard.

Some hours passed and it was now about nine o’clock in the morning. The landowner still needed more help in his vineyard, so he went out again and found more people standing around without a job.

“You all look like you could use a job. I have a vineyard. If you go work in it today, I will give you whatever is right.” So they went.

The landowner went out again about noon, and then again about three o’clock that afternoon. Each time he hired more workers. Then about five o’clock that afternoon he went out and found even more people standing around. He said to them, “Why are you standing here all day without work?”

They said to him, “Because no one hired us, sir.” So the landowner said to them, “You go and work in my vineyard too.”

Finally it was evening, and the work day was over. It was time for the workers to receive their pay. “Call the workers,“ the landowner said to his manager. “Pay them their wages starting with the last one hired all the way to the first one hired.”

The workers who were hired about five o’clock came, and even though they had only worked ONE hour, each received one silver coin, a full day’s pay. (Back then a full day of work was 12 hours! So getting paid for working 12 hours when you only worked one hour was very generous of the landowner.)

One by one all the workers came forward starting with the last ones hired. The ones who worked three hours all got one silver coin, a full day’s wage. The ones that worked six hours got one coin. The ones that worked nine hours got one coin.

When the ones who’d been hired first came forward to receive their pay, the ones who’d worked all day — 12 long hours — they thought that surely they would be paid more than the other workers since they’d worked longer than everyone else. But to their surprise, they got the same amount as all the other workers — one silver coin.

Those workers started to grumble, “Hey! That’s not fair. We worked harder and longer than the other workers. Some of them only worked one short hour, and they got paid the same amount as us?! We worked all day in the hot sun. That’s just not fair.”

The landowner looked at the complaining workers and said, “Friends, didn’t you agree to work for me for a day’s wage, the one silver coin? I am not treating you unfairly. That’s what we agreed on as a fair deal. So take your coin and go on your way. My money belongs to me. And I want to generously give to this last man the same amount as I gave you. Can’t I decide what to do with my own money? Or are you jealous because I am generous?”

Then Jesus looked at the people and said, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Think about it…

Have you ever felt those yucky feelings inside that think, “That’s not fair”? Yuck. It is an awful feeling, isn’t it? Your brain is telling you that you’re right, but it feels VERY wrong, doesn’t it? That’s because demanding fairness is all about what we think we deserve or what we think someone owes us. It’s just me, me, me, me, me, me junk.

The truth is, not a one of us deserves anything Good. We have all been wanderers. We’ve all committed serious crimes against God: sin. If we got what we actually deserved, it would be only big-time punishment.

So the next time your brain is telling you something isn’t fair, you need to STOP and remember that we don’t deserve even a single ray of light to shine on us ever again.

But because God is sooooo kind, He sends the sunshine and rain down for us. And every gift He gives is way over-the-top generous. So let’s be thankful, grateful and humble.

The workers who grumbled about their one coin missed how wonderfully generous the landowner was. They should have shook the landowner’s hand and said, “It is a privilege to work for such a generous man.”

There was another time Jesus talked about having the right attitude about “fairness.” He said to picture a slave coming in from a hard day’s work for his master. When the slave finishes, he doesn’t expect a big hug and a “thank you” or think that the master owes him a reward. Jesus said that when we work hard for God, our Master, all day long, we don’t deserve special praise. No. Instead we should just say, “We have only done our duty.” Because it is just enough, enough, enough to serve a Good Master.