It’s Not Fair!

Competition & Comparison

FairEveryone has some degree of competitiveness in them. For some, the competitiveness shows through during sports or card games. For others, in grades, awards and recognition. Still others through the way they drive and even “fight” for the best parking spot at the grocery store.

In that competitiveness inherent in our human nature, we also usually see comparisons at work. It’s the idea that we did something that someone else didn’t, or vise versa, which resulted in the recognition or victory.

We like to get what we think we deserve, and often we determine this based on what we think others deserve (or don’t deserve). If the result fails to reflect what we feel fits our expectations and assessment of the situation, we feel cheated or slighted and say (or at least think) those infamous words, “It’s not fair!”

Fairness Mentality

The story of the vineyard workers in Matthew 20 shows how this fairness mentality really involves a worldly way of thinking. It’s the idea that we should get something simply based on time served (seniority). But God considers quality over quantity. When we fall short, His grace steps in to more than make up the difference.

When we begin to compare and make assessments based on our views, this story can help us remember that…

  • Salvation is all about grace.

“…even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for ALL those who believe; for there is no distinction; for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24)

  • Expectations kill attitudes.

“When those hired earlier came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested…” (Matthew 20:10-11)

  • Fairness mentality robs joy.

“He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take it and go. I wanted to pay the last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my own money? Should you be angry because I am kind?’” (Matthew 20:13-16)

Without comparisons, we often would be perfectly content with what we received. But because we compare and calculate based on our finite knowledge, we too often discover dissatisfaction and lose joy. Oh, and we end up steeling other people’s joy along the way when we crab about their generosity.

Focus on Grace & Mercy

Jesus ends this story in Matthew by saying…

“And so it is, that many who are first now will be last then; and those who are last now will be first then.” (Matthew 20:16)

I realize this indicates a lack of seniority in God’s Kingdom, and I know it also shows that anyone at anytime can enter God’s Kingdom regardless of past history. In other words, man’s idea of ranking and placing and deservedness doesn’t exist in God’s way of thinking. Aren’t you glad too? I mean, I don’t want to be compared to Moses or David or Paul. Do you?

But I also think this statement contains a directive that can reshape our way of thinking. Instead of looking at others and determining what they or you deserve based on comparisons, can we instead focus on the kindness of the giver? Can we look at the grace and mercy at work in the situation?

When we change our focus in this way, I think we can better live in the joy of the Lord. What do you think?

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9 Replies to “It’s Not Fair!”

  1. Hey Kari! Hope the summer has been kind to you so far. Feel like I'm out of the loop. 🙂 Ironically, i wrote a blog about this before I had seen yours. I then went back and edited mine to include this. It is so easy to see life as unfair, especially when we are told "our best life is now." If this is the best life there is, I'm not sure eternity holds much. I prefer to see more in the future life with Jesus.
    My recent post 42

    1. Yep, so far, so good! Kids are busy, which is good for all of us in a variety of ways. Looking forward to reading your post related to this one. You're so right about our culture promoting this fairness mentality. I see it most in my teenage boys right now, but I also see it a lot in adults. I often think to myself that no matter how good this life seems, eternity is way better. When my oldest son was very young, he would ask me what Heaven was like. Since he was a Disney kid through & through, I simply said, "It's better than Disney World." To him, the best life was a Disney one, so he got that. My point is that no matter how good something seems here, God has way better in mind. I like that thought!

  2. I have been confronted with this before where I thought something was unfair and had plenty of people who backed me up, but then God would speak to my heart, "maybe I just wanted to bless them." Changes the perspective for sure! Focus on the kindness of the Giver–yes! I'm with you. Makes for a much more joyful existence. Thanks Kari.
    My recent post Why Your Work Is Not Useless

    1. Interesting you noted the idea of others backing you up. That's something I'm wrestling with lately. I have every reason to feel slighted and hurt about something, and I am tempted to get others to back me up, but I'm also sensing that it's just not God's will. He not only wants to bless others, He works uniquely in their lives. Who am I to say something shouldn't happen a certain way for them? Focus on Him is SO key!!!

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