KEY TEXT: Matthew 20:10-16 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' So the last will be first, and the first last."
KEY THOT: God's grace is unfair, but his judgment is fair. God's judgment for all is fair because he condemns all equally because all have sinned: "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (John 3:18). Grace is not fair because it allows the condemned to escape the punishment. And more than just escape from due process of justice but it actually rewards us with God's blessings. It's like the President pardoning those on the death-row and then making them his sons and daughters. Such thing is not fair because grace is never fair. So the workers who came earlier protested: "These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat" (v.12).
Grace is never fair because it is entirely an act of God's generosity: "Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' So the last will be first, and the first last." (vv.15-16). If God chooses to bless us unequally, the blessing is entirely His. But nevertheless, He has promised to bless us with "every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Eph. 1:3), even though we don't deserve any of this. So, in that sense, God's grace extended to us former sinners exceeds our works--even after we have become believers. No matter how much we have worked, we cannot earn enough to "pay back everything" (Mt 18:26). Grace is unfair to us sinners because it gives us far beyond what we are entitled to. It is never dependent on how much we have contributed to the Kingdom. It's entirely dependent on God's generosity.
For recipients of grace, there is only one proper response: gratitude and thanksgiving, not grumbling and complaining. Everything we receive by grace is not a right or entitlement but a privilege. For all these blessings, we give thanks.
Abba-Father, Your grace is utterly unfair for You have given to those who deserve nothing but condemnation because of our sins. And You do not require us to "pay back" the sin-debts we owe You because Christ has paid it all. Amen.