Fair Wages

Whitney Capps

Day: 26 | Plan: Matthew

Today's Reading: Matthew 20

Matthew 20:13-14 (NIV) “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.”

“It’s not fair.”

Oh how that idea slithers through our brains, lodges in our hearts and rolls off our tongues … and from a very early age! My children couldn’t read or do arithmetic, but they had a sense of abstract concepts like fairness and justice. That sense of entitlement can often get more entrenched the older we get.

Today’s passage addresses workers who were hired by a landowner to work his vineyard. He hired the workers in shifts throughout the day; some began work early in the morning while others came later in the day, working fewer hours than those hired first. The landowner paid them all the same.

“It’s not fair,” they protested.

The landowner had promised the early shifts to pay them a fair amount. Our key verse tells that they agreed to work for a denarius, a silver Roman coin equaling a day’s wage.  When he hired those to work for the last hour of the day he sent them off with no promise of pay. They apparently trusted him to do what was right.

This passage hurts my heart in the most personal and painful ways. How often I simmer and stew over what I think I deserve or believe I’m owed. Like the entitled workers, I tend to get overly interested in what others are doing and how they might be rewarded, applauded or acknowledged. I forget my Master is trustworthy.

And that’s the bottom line of this story. The landowner is the only one worthy and qualified to decide what’s fair. And He can be trusted even when the reality of His justice feels unfair. Do I trust the character of the Master to determine what’s fair for me and for others? Ouch.

Prayer: Lord I know I get into trouble when I start looking down the line at what others have, evaluating how You may have blessed them. Help me keep my eyes focused on You and Your trustworthy character. You are always fair. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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