More than fair

A few weeks ago, I preached on Jesus’ parable about the man who owns a vineyard and hires workers at different points in the day.  The surprise in the story happens when both the people who were hired at sunrise and the ones hired just before suppertime are paid a full day’s wages.  Those who had been "Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard" by Andrea del Sartoworking all day quickly complained: “These men who were hired last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day!”

The parable reminds us that God is not fair as we typically understand fairness.  Rather than being fair, God is lavish in grace, whether you’ve walked with Him for decades, were introduced to Him more recently, or were born a few days ago.  If God were only fair, you and I would be in a lot of trouble, because we deserve death and hell.  But thank God that His fairness is exceeded by His grace through Jesus!

And that, in a nutshell, is what I talked about in my message.

Now I wish I had noticed and pointed out one other thing.

The landowner says to the complaining workers, “Friend, I am not being unfair to you.”  I focused in my message how, in his generosity, the landowner (representing God) is “not being unfair” in his graciousness.  But what if I skipped right over something even more important, more significant than the “fairness” of it all?  What if the most significant thing the landowner says is “friend?”  What if that’s the real surprise of the story, an even bigger surprise than all the workers being paid the same amount?

Jesus is not only teaching about the generous economics of God’s Kingdom, but is calling us to friendship with the King Himself.  Friendship is not first of all about what is and isn’t fair; it’s about love and care.  We don’t keep accounts with our friends, gauging how fair we are and they are in giving and receiving love.  Friends simply love each other.

That’s how God desires to relate to me, and it’s how He invites me to relate to Him.  He doesn’t think of me as an employee or a slave.  In Christ, He has befriended me and walks alongside me in the journey of life.

I’ll take that over being fair any day!

Artwork: “Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard” by Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530). Found at Biblical Art on the WWW.  I first really noticed the word “friend” via a meditation in Forward Day by Day.

6 thoughts on “More than fair

  1. AWH says:

    It’s a beautiful thing we too often ignore. We are a culture of do-ers, not be-ers. Hard to slow down enough to be His friend.


  2. […] Christ Jesus, God befriends us, as I blogged the other day.  That God is friends with us propels you and me to lovingly befriend our neighbours and help […]


  3. Val E says:

    God is control of everything. Indeed He does things that we simply do not understand – we do not have the mind of God. I like how you pointed that out. And truly, God is more Gracious and Merciful than any of us deserve.


  4. […] text!  Granted, I’ve blogged about Gospel texts, often in connection with my preaching (e.g. parable of the vineyard owner; prodigal series parts one, two, three and four).  Nevertheless, I’ll try to post in the […]


  5. […] seen the theme of friendship with God and with one another crop up quite often (most recently here and here).  Jesus says to His 1st century and 21st century disciples, “You are my friends if […]


  6. […] the way by pastor and blogger Andrew W. Holt, I’ve written on this subject numerous times (here, here, and here, for example).  Finally last week I preached on it, using John 15:9-17 as the […]


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