“It”s not Fair” – Sermon by Rev. Brian Combs 9/24/14
The cartoon strip reads, “The world isn’t fair, Calvin. I know dad, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?” Bill Matterson
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again aboutnoon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 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 the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Why did the first arriving laborers grumble?
Because they worked more
Equal work for equal pay is an American value
Some come to Christ late in life and are welcomed just the same
Salvation can’t be earned
The Church is full of people who carry the burden of discipleship and still end up last.
“Life is not fair,” says Barbara Brown Taylor, “which is why it seems all the more important that God should be. [The one] who keeps track of how long and how hard you’ve worked and who doesn’t let people break in line ahead of you. God should be the one manager who polices the line.” Equity is the absence of bias, conformity to rule and regulation, getting what we deserve according to our merit.
And yet, the landowner is forever hiring, every application is approved and the payroll stubs always include overtime every time. Nothing is perhaps more edifying to the work ethic of the proud than being cheated by God in the name of grace. “God isn’t too hard to believe in, ” says William Sloan Coffin, “God is too good to believe in.”
There’s on old Jewish story about two brothers who were partners in the flour milling business. One was married, the other single. They had an agreement that at the end of each day, any extra flour would be divided equally and each brother would put the surplus in his storehouse.
But the single brother began to think, “I care only for myself, no wife or child to support.” So under the cover of darkness, he went and put the extra flour in his brother’s storehouse. At the same time, the other brother began thinking, “I have the richness of family and my brother is alone.” So under the cover of darkness, he went and put the extra flour in his brother’s storehouse.
Every night each brother did this in secret, and each morning each was amazed that their supply never diminished. Until, arms laden with sacks of flour, they stumbled into each other in the darkness. There, they wept and embraced.
So laborers in the vineyard, know this when it is quitting time: God isn’t fair but God is generous. God isn’t fair but God is generous. God isn’t fair but God is generous.