The Parables of Jesus: Day 9

The Vineyard Workers


Today's Text: Matthew 19:23-30, Matthew 20:1-16

In this study of the Parables of Jesus, we are reading many of the stories Jesus used to teach hearers about how to live as His followers. Each day we’ll read parables in their immediate context, focusing on a different category of parables each week. Then we will work through a series of questions to understand the meaning of the text and take to heart the “secrets of the kingdom.”

Editor’s Note: In this Parables study, Jesus Himself is telling us stories—stories He wants us to reflect on and process. Rather than asking our writers to write their own stories about Jesus’ stories, we thought it would serve you and the text better to provide questions to help you dig into the meaning of each day’s parable. If you find a parable or passage particularly confusing, stop and pray. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in His Word, and thank Him that we can know Him without knowing all the answers to our questions.


Week 2: Parables about Repentance and Grace

Stories about other people often reveal things to us about ourselves. This week’s selection of parables all deal with themes of repentance and grace, and in them we see that Jesus meant for His parables to stir the hearts of His hearers. As you read, let these parables serve as a kind of mirror, and ask what Jesus is showing you that you might not have otherwise seen. Use the questions below to help.


Day 9 Reading: Matthew 19:23-30, Matthew 20:1-16


1. This parable raises a question about the fairness of grace. Do you struggle when things seem unfair? Why? What does fairness look like to you?

2. What is the problem this particular parable is responding to, and what is the outcome of the story?

3. What is the central point of this parable?

4. What is your response to this parable?


  • Stefanie .

    Fairness was created by the world where we think fairness is blessing a person by the judgement we’ve concluded of them. When PRAISE GOD He is not our version of fair, instead He is good and Just and instead of giving us all what we deserve by His right judgement of us He gave Jesus and we get to spend eternity in glory with our Father. The Gospel is not fair, if you really compare it to the world’s definition but man oh man praise Him for being so much greater for His unfair grace.

  • Sophie Pellegrino

    This parable really hit home with me. I am a recovered anorexic and have recently fallen back into negative self image and a bad relationship with food. I am CONSTANTLY comparing myself to others and my previous self. Comparison honestly consumes my life. I’m always thinking “well yeah maybe she’s going through something hard but at least she’s skinny”, “maybe he has no friends but at least he gets to eat three times a day without feeling guilty about it”. I came to the conclusion a while back that comparison kills joy. Comparison truly blocks us from seeing our blessings and appreciating what we have. It’s one of the devils nasty tricks that leads to self pity and shame. Just like the first servant who still receives his denarius, he compared what he had done to what the last servant had done and was unsatisfied with what he had received. In the same way when I receive blessings I tend to be so caught up in comparison that I don’t even take time to enjoy what the Lord has given me. Let’s challenge each other here to stop comparing our blessings and our trials to those around us. Be grateful for what the Lord is doing in your life. I’m new to she reads truth & I’ve truly grown already so I thank all of you for being lights in this world. :)

  • God just punched me in the face in the best way ever!

  • There’s been a lot that goes on around me to question God’s fairness or grace… It’s been hard seeing a friend’s baby get diagnosed with brain cancer and know his last day is soon, or a beloved friend lose her life at 37 leaving a six year old boy and a husband behind the week of thanksgiving, or a coworker’s cousin who committed suicide Christmas day while she battles breast cancer, or a boss who’s wife has been battling cancer for over 10 years, and it just showed up in her spine… Fairness and grace is not just in the rewards but in the degree of suffering it seems. This parable linked up wages and life’s struggles together for me. In the same way that God is God and I am not, He is sovereign over all the pain and blessings that’s allowed or given in our lives and we may never know why. The servants didn’t know why the master was paying the same for everyone who worked no matter the hours and neither are we. I stand in the middle of all this suffering and all I can do is praise. I don’t know the why’s or the how’s or the when’s but I know who controls it all…

    • Katie

      What an awesome and inspiring view of things. Thank you for sharing. We don’t know all the why’s and how’s but we are extravagantly blessed to know the Who in the midst of it all.

  • One main thing that stuck out to me reading these parables was the need for humility. It takes humility to understand that we don’t deserve any grace. Pride says “I worked for this, so I deserve it. Or I’m not so bad compared to them.” But once I understand how desperately I need God’s grace EVERY DAY, I won’t have time to be looking down on others and patting myself on the back. Praying for humility today, and thanking God for His constant grace, because I’m so guilty of comparing.

  • Samantha Pedroza

    Well I just got punched in the gut! Needed this today

  • A few things spoke to me in this parable –

    1) Grace & Works: To me this parable says Grace is a Gift, a generosity of the master. But there is also an element of work. The vineyard workers are asked to work. Peter mentions his works (gave up everything for Christ). So in some sense, yes Grace is a gift. But God also asks us to work. But what He asks of each of us can be different. But the Grace lavished on us all is the same.

    2) Comparisons Poisons Joy: I spent a lot of my 20’s comparing myself to others, especially when I felt like my life wasn’t working out the way I wanted it to. I was so frustrated that God seemed to be opening doors for others but not myself. The reality is that God had me on a different path. And my path was unique to what He was doing in my heart and how He wanted to use my life. Comparisons just poisoned my heart. It was all about “Me Me Me”. It said to God, I’m only doing what I’m doing for me, not You. The question a Christian counselor asked me during this period was whether I was God or God was God. And whether I had faith to believe in God. If so, then comparisons are meaningless.

    3) Master Gets to Decide: The rebuke in the end is interesting. It’s like Jesus tells us to stop applying our prideful judgement about fairness, thinking we know better. In fact he calls out our lack of generosity. And the fact that God gets to decide – he’s Master, Sovereign, God. Who’s money is it anyways?

    4) God Cheats No One: The laborers who worked all day imply that the Master cheated them because he paid those who worked less the same amount. What’s emphatically illustrated is that the Master paid exactly what was agreed upon. So no one was cheated. In Peter’s case, Jesus makes clear that anyone who sacrifices for Him will be rewarded 100x – His terms are better than the Master’s in the parable. But the poison of comparison sometimes twists generosity to seemingly appear like cheating. That’s how sin distorts the truth. But God is faithful – do not doubt that.

    My Response: This passage made me think about how Gratitude helps buffer the poison of Comparisons. I take time to write down weekly blessings (I’m on blessing #1,765 as of yesterday). Doing this regularly has really helped me to be thankful rather than complain or feel cheated in life. God’s blessings have covered it all.

    • Jaclyn Ruth

      Thank you so much for this! I needed this today!!

    • Mel

      I love reading your thoughts. I keep a journal each day of my devotional reading, and many of the things you write end up in there. Thank you for your inspiration!

    • Lara Hannah

      That second one really resonates with me. It is like I was reading my own words.

    • Jacqueline

      Thank you so mm much for your help and your thoughts

  • I truly believe that this is a parable of judgement. We all agree to follow Jesus because he is King, and Jesus tells us that in return we will enter into the kingdom of heaven. It doesn’t matter when we start to follow him or how long we have been reading our bibles- it is the fact that we dedicate our lives to the Lord. We all are promised the kingdom of heaven but we shouldn’t get jealous or feel self- righteous because we have found Jesus sooner than others. Rather than being judgemental we should rejoice with each other that we have found the Lord and he is SO GOOD to us!!!

  • Comparisons rob us joy and thanksgiving! Our relationship with the Lord is personal (as is everybody’s else) so it is not wise to compare… only Him knows our hearts, every detail of our lives and what is best for us in the long run.

  • This parable is a good reminder to me as I have been struggling financially. I look at other people such as my sister who is a non believer and she is making over $100,000 a year and going on trip all of the time and can afford to do so. Or one of my friends who is an addict making $1,000 plus a week with nothing to show for it except whatever drugs he is doing at the time. I watch the debt collectors call my phone on a regular basis and I have two jobs just to try and make ends meet and it just doesn’t seem fair. Then I have to sit back and remember life is not fair. God is good. All of the time. And I know that He will always provide. Whatever I’m learning in this time of struggle I want to learn it. I want to continue to be joyful and praise Him always. Even when things seem bleak. Shew! I enjoyed this parable very much so because God loves my sister and my friend as much as He loves me. And my sin is no less than theirs. So really, who am I to say what is and isn’t fair? I’m going to continue to be generous even when I have nothing. Because God doesn’t want you to wait to be blessed to do for others. He wants you to do for others and then you will be blessed.

  • Amelia Mccall

    I’m really loving these questions, I hope that continues with each study- it really helps me to grow deeper than just reading someone else’s thoughts on a passage. :)

  • Grace is such a touchy subject for a lot of us. We cling to it when we have messed up and want forgiveness from God and those we may have hurt. Yet, we stomp it down and allow indignation to rise when we have been wronged, or frustration to build when we perceive someone getting more grace than ourselves. We have a very self-seeking point of view when thinking about grace, but Jesus extends the fullest measure of grace to every single person no matter what they have done, or how long it takes them to turn to him. In our earth-bound minds we have a hard time grasping this subject and think that everything must be fair, although if we truly thought out the ramifications of that line of thought we would be forced to face the harsh reality that it is not fair for a single one of us to receive God’s grace and salvation. Yet, we compare our lives to each others and find it unfair that I, the good Christian girl who has been living a Christian lifestyle even when it’s hard for her entire life, and the one who enjoys her non-Christian lifestyle until she is on her death-bed to only then turn to God, receive the same gift of grace. The reality is that I should be joyful that we all receive the same gift. It means that it is never too late, God will pursue you as long as you are breathing. Jesus says that He wishes “to give to this last man the same as to you” (Matt. 20:14). He will not withhold His salvation from anyone. I am also joyful to have the most amount of time living for God as possible. It is not a chore as we sometimes portray it. Rather, it is in my walk with Christ that I find joy, meaning, worth and strength. I should encourage others to find that personal walk with God as soon as they can, not because I want it to be fair, but because I want their life to be complete and fulfilled in Christ.

    • Amelia Mccall

      This is great!

    • Barb

      You nailed it, Erica. I have struggled with things being “fair” and you have beautifully articulated what I think and how I SHOULD think. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sarah

      Thank you! This is beautifully put.

    • Beth L.

      Also, all rewards are not just on this earth. The unbeliever that repents on their death bed will have eternal life, but there will be no rewards for serving the Lord in their lifetime. The Christian who suffers in this life but serves the Lord with the right motives and attitudes will have many eternal rewards, 1 Cor. 3:11-15.

  • I think this is an especially convicting parable/section of scripture for readers living in the affluent materialistic societies of America. Speaking from experience, it is perhaps harder to trust God when all your physical needs, and many of your wants, are fully met. This is ironic because it seems that we would be eternally grateful that the Lord has blessed us with so much, but instead we often either forget about the Lord in times of great blessing, or we revert to comparing our blessings to the blessings of others.

    I was reminded through this scripture to keep a loose grip on the blessings of this life because they aren’t deserved to anyone, including myself. If I keep my focus on Christ, and how I can best serve him, instead of on “status” or “wealth,” the problems that arise in this parable of jealousy or lack of “proper reward” will soon dissipate. The joy of knowing Christ and walking closely with him is so much more eternally rewarding than any material possession.

  • As a first born, I remember having to wait until a certain age for certain privileges, but my younger sister did not. For example, I had to wait until I was 10 to get my ears pierced, so on my 10th birthday, we went to the jewelry store, but then my sister (who is 2 years younger than me) and I BOTH got our ears pierced at the same time. I got so upset and jealous thinking it wasn’t fair. Why did I have to wait, but she didn’t?
    Now that I have 2 daughters of my own, I understand that my parents had their reasons, and they did what they thought was best for each of us. I think this parable is saying that God knows what is best, and it is up to Him to decide what is best for each of us. He wants to show grace to everyone. Whether someone is saved at an early age or on their death bed, they are equally saved. They will both be in Heaven with their Savior. In the parable, it may seem like some worked harder for their wages, but ultimately, they all got what was promised to them. Rather than compare myself with others, I need to be grateful for the grace that God has given me.

    “The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.” -Relient K

    • Vanessa

      Beth, that was so insightful and wise. Thank you for sharing. This example was so applicable to present day. Yahweh bless you!

      • Beth L.

        So often we want to compare, but the Bible speaks about the lack of wisdom in comparing. 2 Cor. 10:12, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

    • Emily B.

      I thought of that Relient K lyric, too! So good!

  • My NLT study Bible says- we shouldn’t begrudge those who turn to God in the last minutes of life, because, in reality, no one deserves eternal life.
    Grace, Grace, God’s Grace. Thank you Lord for Your Mercy and Grace.

  • Oh man does this hit home (as I see it did for many others). I didn’t quite have a fair start in life nor in growing up, and I think I developed an attitude thinking that the world owed me, that God owed me for all the hardship I’ve endured and survived. But in this God says the exact opposite. He is giving grace to others just as he did to me, and they deserve it no less than I do, no matter how “easy” I think their life has been compared to mine. I pray that God will continue to mold me into a giver of grace and charity to ALL, not just who I think deserves it. ❤️

  • I can get so bitter and allow myself to do the “not fairs” in relation to serving my aging/ill parents. My sister does not help much. She is not a believer and so I think she does not understand sacrificial serving/loving. She seems not to “see” or acknowledge the needs, for help and for love, that my parents have. And she seems not to “see”/acknowledge all I do for them. It hurts a lot. And makes me bitter. But God sees. He knows. I want to serve out of a pure heart to love. And to model Christ to them and her. My parents treat her differently and don’t expect of her, which is not fair. But that is not the point. Serving for the Lord is. I need to get out of my feelings and keep my eyes on my own paper and do the work He calls me to do even in a complicated family dynamic. Oh my, this is a ramble.

    • Beth L.

      When I get jealous about things in family like that I have to remind myself why I am serving. I must remember it is all about my attitude and the rewards eternally are not just what I do but my motives. An unsaved relative does not have that privilege of serving the Lord out of love and one day having those eternal rewards.

  • This parable hits home. I work in full time ministry and am struggling with finding childcare for my son. My husband is a teacher (to have the flexibility to also work with the ministry we’re called to) so we’re not exactly raking in the big bucks. I asked a family member to watch my son a few days a week to help support us, and they did not seem very enthusiastic about the idea. This same family member supported my sister by providing this service (full time), who had made terrible decisions. I felt like, we’ve done everything right…we’ve been faithful to the Lord, good stewards of our finances, and we’re in ministry for pete’s sake…why would she say yes to my sister and not to us?! I was getting bitter and angry and then this study of Parables started and I began seeing my sin spill all over the pages. This is another reminder. Thankful for the generosity and faithfulness of our good God, and content to allow him to sit on the throne and sit in wonder of his graciousness.

  • Matthew19:27 “Then Peter said in reply,” See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”
    Can you imagine if your friend said this to you? Well I came over for dinner or I took you out for coffee. I hung out with you at the hospital or listened to you unload your soul about the relationships in your life. So now what are you going to do for me?
    And forgive me Peter if the original language doesn’t translate well but my first thought was Dude! Then my second thought was directed to me – Dude. Have I not tried to bargain with God? Have I not cried out in my lack of understanding “It’s not fair!”? Have I not questioned God in a spirit of not trusting Him? Have I not balked at His call b/c He might not be good or understand my circumstances or not really care about me or care about someone MORE than me?
    I posted yesterday about having to do things I felt were unfair (prematurely apparently!) in a particular season of life. But what God also spoke to my heart (ALOT!) was “Don’t worry about them and what they’re doing or not doing. Just focus on what I have asked you to do and I’ll look after the rest.” His currency is different than the world’s so we can trust that the things we’re asked to do will have value to God. And we shouldn’t (but we will) become discouraged when we don’t see those dividends immediately. That’s okay but let’s lift our eyes to God because He knows what He’s doing!! And it’s incredibly freeing to let go of trying to manage everything. God bless you sisters!

    • Shauna

      I am 2 days behind in the study but needed to reply; I agree so much with your response here. I struggle sometimes and have to remind myself that God’s grace is sufficient for each of us and honestly it is GENEROUS because we so do not deserve it!

  • First time commenting! My first take away from this parable was that, God doesn’t care when you joined the team, he’s going to give the same reward. My second take away was that it’s not my job to pay attention to what the Lord is doing in someone else’s life. If someone comes along and joins the Christian army and receives equal pay or more, I’m getting paid what I’m still getting paid what I agreed to, ( eternal life).

  • The first time I really read this parable, it shifted my view about my own job situation. For so long I had resented that I had co-workers who slacked off so much every day, yet our boss paid them the same as they paid me. Then it was like Jesus was speaking straight to me when he said, “I’m doing you no wrong… Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what is mine?”
    Thank goodness He is overly generous with grace, because I certainly haven’t earned any of it.

    • Laura

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I can relate! God is such a good good father.

  • I struggle with comparison which causes judgement and envy. It feels so awful to write that, but I do. God, please heal my heart. Help me to get to the place where I can rejoice with others when they are rejoicing and not to compare myself with others. It truly is the thief of joy.

    • Sharon

      You’re on the right path! “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) Let’s keep pressing forward…

  • I find myself with some bitterness in my heart; comparison is really the thief of joy. Jesus, please heal my heart. Keep my eyes on You, I’m sick of looking around; I want to dwell in your presence.

    The beautiful thing about this parable, is that there is room for everyone in His vineyard.. everyone can find their place and make themselves useful.

    • Sharon

      Same reply as to Alexix…You’re on the right path! “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) Let’s keep pressing forward…

  • Veronica Crump

    Every day we struggle with jealousy and judgement.We want those who we perceive to be wicked to suffer .The lord sees all his children as equal we are all sinners in need of our savior.

  • Life isn’t fair, we all know. and have experienced that.. Trust me I have had my shares of these thoughts running through my head as well. However, I am so grateful that God extends his mercy and grace even if it’s to the last minute of our breath on this earth to except HIS salvation. We all have many loved ones that need that grace and mercy extended to them. Update. Those of you who were praying for me yesterday, all was in my favor. It’s still very painful, but I am so glad of the outcome. My children get to remain with me as full custody. We have been staying with my mom and we’ll remain here for the next serval months. Please pray as we go through the process of setting up supervised visits and some counseling sessions for my children. I’m also concerned financially how this is all going to take place but I am reminded that I serve a big God and he’s yet to let me down. Pray also for their dad as I know this was probably painful for him however there’s a saying at celebrate recovery, “if nothing changes, nothing changes.”

    • Christina D.

      Mari thank you for sharing. I prayed yesterday and am so happy the outcome of the custody question has been resolved. I will continue to pray for you during these next few months as life is looking and feeling so different for you and your children than you has hoped. Praying.

      • Mari

        Thank you Christina. I know that God was with me as I had so much strength yesterday. Please pray for my teenage son. He’s a great kid. Has his struggles but a good kid.

    • KimN

      Thank you for the update Mari. Will continue to pray for all of you – keep your eyes fixed on Him. He can make something beautiful out of our struggles! xo

      • Mari

        Thank you Kim, that is my hope that someday something beautiful will come out of this ugliness. My main concern is my teenage son. He’s a has own struggles and issues but he’s good kid with a good heart

  • Diane Huntsman

    Begrudging generosity when it’s for someone other than myself.. I think I would have been irritated by the same seemingly unfairness because Clearly I am selfish and somewhat entitled.. it’s a sad thing to admit, but rejoicing with those who rejoice isn’t a natural manifestation if I’m not under the spout where the blessings flow out as well… I’m all about fair and that’s just not fair but it would have been fine if it were me getting the same pay working less. These parables are so good for me to get to see my heart revealed in the characters in which are being written about… Lord Jesus, I don’t want to be that person.. that selfish ungrateful person who cannot take delight in the blessings you bestow upon others.. work in my heart that I might become one who not only celebrates the good that others get to experience but desires it for them.. and for any of my sisters who struggle as I do, work in their hearts as well.. I want to have a heart like Yours which is a heart that continually wants the best for others..

  • I have really struggled when things seem unfair. In my family I have seen my husband and I follow the “traditional,” (or so I defined) path of going to school, getting our college degrees, getting jobs, buying a home, raising a family. I watched as another member of our family took a different path; not going to college, having children first, then getting married, starting a small business, and making way more money than we were. In the beginning it was so difficult for me to understand their decisions and the fact that they appeared (key word here), to be receiving so much more blessings than me who did the “right” thing, put in the “right” works. Afterall I had done what I was “supposed” to, put in the effort and time and money to earn my degree, right? Fairness was a definition unique to my own mind and of course held up by unrealistic standards. This is of course that is not how this world works, and not how Jesus wants us to manage our lives or think of others. It really was not until recently that I realized the bitterness this “unfairness” had driven into my heart, and the joy it was robbing me of my relationship with these family members, and of my gratitude and contentment with my own life and situation. It wasn’t until I fully committed my life to Jesus and started focusing on His words that I realized I was suffering from bitterness, that comparison TRULY is the thief of all joy, and that something had to change. Focusing on the promises of Jesus and remembering and being grateful for for the blessings I DO have, has restored so much peace into my heart. Once I gave this bitterness up to God, my perspective and life totally changed, I was able to see more clearly how wonderful their success truly is, and also see the sacrifices they put in to get to the place they are in. Now that I have my own family and am a stay-at-home mom, they actually asked for help and I am now working part-time to help support their business! That my friends, is no coincidence. I am so thankful for God’s grace.

  • This parable brings to mind my first job after I finished law school and the bar exam.

    I started working at a firm on December 1st. When Christmas arrived and the office gathered for a party, the head of the firm handed the associate lawyers a Christmas card as everyone was leaving the party.

    I knew that I would not be receiving a Christmas check like the other lawyers who had been with the firm for several years. I tucked my card in my purse and headed out to the parking lot. While waiting for my car to warm, I took out the card to read it. I was speechless when I found a check inside, and in the same amount as the other associate lawyers had received.

    • Alexis

      Awww I love this. What an awesome example of the second parable. God is so good :)

  • This story really spoke to me. I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember and have probably taken my faith for granted at times. People I know who are new to the faith seem more willing to serve, so of course they deserve as much of God’s Grace as I do.

  • Each parable we have been reading usually takes me to my typical uneasy feeling I get when I hear people complain about what they get in return for their work or doing of something. “I did this and only got…” It has always made me uncomfortable to hear because I want to ask, then you only did… so that you could get…? In other words the deed was not done out of the goodness of the heart; it was only done as a payment for something else?
    It makes me cringe when siblings argue over shared inheritance. One cared for parents many years, more so than the others but the inheritance is split equally. The horrible line of “I did all this and yet we get the same” implies that all was done for an expected payment rather than being done out of love. I cringe.

    Anyone else hear this in these stories?

  • 1. This parable raises a question about the fairness of grace. Do you struggle when things seem unfair? Sometimes, but this parable makes me happy. Shouldnt I be happy about my brothers/sisters opportunities and different situations and that God gives generously to all? Arent I such as the 11th hour worker?

    What does fairness look like to you? To me – its a weighted average. Take everyone’s unique situation, circumstances, talents, gifts, and give to each as they are due.

    2. What is the problem this particular parable is responding to, and what is the outcome of the story? The problem is the workers were paid the same for varying degrees of work, in this case hours worked. The outcome is that all workers are paid “salaried” rather than
    “hourly” :)

    3. What is the central point of this parable? That it doesnt matter when you receive Jesus – having grown up in it or accepting Christ on your deathbed, the reward will be the EXACT SAME.

    4. What is your response to this parable? It makes me happy actually. I am glad God shows no partiality.

  • Alexis Maycock

    This parable reminds me of the phrase “It doesn’t matter when or where you began; what matter is how you end.” Grace is equal access to everyone- thank God for His grace!

  • I once heard a sermon on the camel and the eye of the needle, and that particular pastor explained that the eye of the needle was also a commonplace term for an architectural detail in those days – he described it as a very low, narrow opening, and for something as big as a camel to get through it, the animal would have to get down on their knees and sort of shuffle through the small hole. And that this was often doubly challenging because camels are really stubborn and have no desire to crawl through small holes like that! I always loved that image, because, to me, it captures exactly what Jesus was saying. It’s not impossible for the wealthy/proud/stubborn/entitled/jealous/you name it to reach heaven (for all things are possible with Christ), but in order to do that we have to literally hit our knees and trust God to get us through the right spaces. We humble ourselves and follow Him even into places we don’t want to go, and trust His promise that where we’re going will be worth every squeeze!

  • This is one of my favorite parables. I love the story and picture of grace we see here. At least for the ones who started working in the 11th hour. They were paid same as the first ones hired. God’s grace is equally available to everyone, and Jesus’s work on the cross Is available for everyone equally. It seems so easy to accept that when we’re talking about grace and salvation and mercy.

    Things change when we start talking about money or earthly possessions. I don’t think anyone would say “no, it’s not fair for this person to be allowed to receive Christ on their death bed and to be granted the same eternal life I was granted.” But when the person who sits behind me at church is blessed with something that came so easy for them, the exact same thing that I’ve been longing for (striving for? And you know what He says about striving… to cease it!!) for years, and have been told it’s not possible at this time, they obtain it so easily. Hey, that’s not fair. Sometimes we say we worked harder, or wanted it more, or deserve it. Why do we deserve anything? We don’t. But we act that way. Just like those workers who were hired at the beginning of the day. It doesn’t seem fair that someone else gets things so easily that I’ve been told “wait” on.

    It’s not for me to say “hey, I’ve done it better than them, I’ve wanted it longer, I’ve struggled so much for it over here, hey that’s not fair. I’ve found that when i start saying “it’s not fair” I’m usually right on the very high and dangerous cliff of pride about to tumble down. Or i can realize where I am and climb down myself instead of being knocked down a few notches. Same goes for when I start saying “hey, I deserve this because I’ve worked so hard for it.” For me it’s a heart condition. If I start feeling like I deserve anything, that’s pride reading it’s ugly head and I’m usually about to fall. And I’m also usually very ungrateful for what I do have.

    Jesus said in this parable, basically, mind your own business, don’t compare your work to what these guys over here did (Galatians 6:4). Did you not agree to work for 1 denarius? All right then. Take what you agreed to and shush, their payment is none of your concern.

    Point taken.

    We get so busy trying to be God and do His job for him. Saying “it’s not fair” seems to be a good indicator, a symptom if you will, that pride is at play, and there’s some work I need to do.

    As I said at the beginning, it’s different in our human minds when we start talking about wages or material possessions (I just want a house, okay? God has said “not right now” and it’s dricing me nuts.). But we have to fix our eyes not on things of this world, but on the matters of the Kingdom. We have to not be stuck in love for money – aka/or material possessions – because love of money corrupts.

    Anyway, got off topic a bit. But this parable really is one of my favorites. And dealing with fairness is a weakness of mine. Thank God I’m a Work in progress and he hasn’t given up on me yet!

    • Gena

      Well said.

    • Emily

      I so agree with your words! I am so often focused on my own idea of success, not on His. We should be thankful that we have to work hard to reap minor (and someone no) benefits. He has loved us and blessed us more than we could ever imagine. Thank you Jesus!

    • CJ

      “Why do we deserve anything? We don’t.” Amen sister.

    • Erin

      Love this, Carolyn! Thanks for sharing!

    • Sabrina


    • Christina D.

      CarolynJ you took the thoughts out of my head. Was just thinking how easy it is to want everyone to experience God’s grace and salvation but how difficult things become when we start weighing and measuring what we perceive as God’s doling out of material “blessings.” Such a conviction on my heart this morning through this parable. Thank you for sharing your thoughts today. I need some humbling.

  • The question in v. 15–are you JEALOUS because I am GENEROUS?—really hit hard. It is when we compare that we question God’s goodness, fairness. Comparison robs us of Joy and Praise and Thanksgiving. So we must Look the the Lord and give Him our Praise because of the immeasurably more than all we can imagine that He’s given us.

    • Jenny

      Yes, this hit me too! We are all on our own specific path created by the Lord. We cannot compare or become jealous of others, just be grateful for what we do have

  • I struggle with fairness. It’s difficult to see others gain in this world by doing things that are not fair, right or just – at least according to my eyes. Sometimes I let this elevate my thoughts of myself, thinking I deserve more or will have more favor because I try to do what’s right. This reminds me that God has love for all of us that is equal and “fair.” He loves me as much as he loves a drunkard or an adultress. I have to remember that in God’s eyes, my sins are no different than drunkeness or adultery. I sometimes elevate others’ sins above my own, like theirs are worse than mine. But these parables tell me that is not true. They remind me to have grace for others just as God has it for me.

    • Christina D.

      Peggy your words have convicted me. The idea of elevating myself in entitlement or elevating the sins of others is definitely something I have done. Thank you for your transparency and sharing today. I needed that conviction.

  • I often ask myself, do I want what I want, or do I want what God wants for me. I wish I could say those things were one and the same, but more often they are embarrassingly different. Repenting ,praying and praising Him for His grace and mercy.

  • -I think the problem arises when we question the Why behind the generosity. Why did God choose to bless A more than B? For me that’s where my legalistic, list checking humanness wants to rear it’s ugly head. The reasoning goes something like this: well A dis this and this and this while I know B did this and this and this, so why does A seemed to be more favored by God than B when A seems to be working harder for the Lord!?! Insert loud game show ‘You’re Wrong!’ buzzer here. (Or that terrible noise the credit card readers make now. But I digress) The simple answer is that we don’t work to be blessed. Yes. That’s hard for those of us who like to make to do lists. Who like putting things in categories. Who seem to need things to Make Sense. Fortunately and unfortunately, the Gospel simply doesn’t do that. Why why why would God do what he did for us? Why does he love us at all? Why does he care? So before I get all wrapped around the axle about what doesn’t seem Fair, I have to stop, step back, and look at the Big Picture. Stop seeing all the things that matter in the moment and focus on the only thing that has eternal value.

  • Grace is something that recently I’ve thought a lot about…I require grace…A LOT OF IT…but when I’m in a position to extend it, I typically withhold it. In school, I always told I’m kids, fair isn’t equal because we don’t all need the exact same thing. We all need the Father and the grace and mercies he extends to me are likely different than what he extends to you.. Nonetheless, we are both His and no amount of toiling will earn us higher favor with Him.

  • Churchmouse

    How can I be angry with God’s generosity? Everything belongs to Him and He does with it as He sees fit. When I realize His stuff is not my stuff then I can’t fuss over what I or others have or don’t have. It’s all His.

  • rosebergamot

    There is no doubt that our master is gracious. I️ don’t deserve any of the mercy he gives me but I️ thank him for taking me anyway. I️ pray that all may know his love and mercy. In the first hours of their lives or in the last. He is so good.

  • I have been struggling a lot lately with the idea that what I think is fair is not necessarily what I am going to get. This is especially difficult when working with people who are ungrateful for what they have, which happens to be what I want. but God keeps reminding me to pay attention to what he has for me and find peace in it. The economy of His Kingdom is different than ours.

    • CarolynJ

      This is something I struggle with too. Comparing myself to others who I happen to know a bit about their story. How they’ve snubbed me or how they’ve made a decision that seems to be oh-so-very un-Christian. But then God seems to be blessing them with the exact same thing that I’ve been longing for over here. Then what comes out of my mouth is “hmm. Must be nice.” And I find myself not happy for them in celebrating their blessing. Not that I’ve been asked to celebrate. But it’s not about them. It’s about my heart condition and how I react when others are being given the exact same thing I’ve been praying about and asking for and has been a thorn in my side for years now, others seem to get so easily. It certainly doesn’t seem fair. But you’re right, God’s economy is different. Sunday verse 4 of Galatians 6 jumped off the screen at me while I was looking for wording of verse 2. 6:4 says we need to be checked against our own work, not comparing ourselves to others and the amount of work they’ve done. We have our own walk to walk and sometimes it looks different than my neighbors walk. Sometimes it looks the same, but it’s not for me to say “hey, I’ve done it better than them, I’ve wanted it longer, I’ve struggled so much for it over here, hey that’s not fair. I’ve found that when i start saying “it’s not fair” I’m usually right on the very high and dangerous cliff of pride about to tumble down. Or i can realize where I am and climb down myself instead of being knocked down a few notches.

      Thank you for your reminder that Gods economy is different.

  • I live in black and white. I like justice and would say that mercy is something that I struggle with on a daily basis, (even though I am quick to accept God’s mercy for my own life)! As an education major, I had to go to college to learn, and finally understand that fair does not mean equal. If we begin to question what others have and why their blessings seem so much more than our own, then we call God’s generosity into question. If He gave us all what we deserve and treated us equally, we would all have nothing but eternal separation from Him. Praise God that He lavishes us in His mercies on a daily basis! He gives to us according to our needs and not those of our neighbors. His fairness assures that we all will have “abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.”

    • Cassandra

      Yes! We are so inclined to think in terms of what is deserved…we work to achieve…and even feel entitled when we’re not. Gods love, mercy, justice, grace, gifts are not about what we deserve, what we work for…he paid the price for us that we could never pay through Jesus and freely gives us salvation, his presence. 20 something years into my walk I still struggle with feeling like I have to earn Gods love but I think he’s now writing the truth on my heart that I have nothing to earn because he is already mine. And the new believers we’re praising God for on Sunday mornings or the prodigals returned we’re partying over…he is just as much theirs! And it’s the best reason to celebrate when the kingdom is growing. I think of the kingdom as a community of SELFLESS love one where being self centered wouldn’t even make sense because everyone cares so much about others…Jesus wants to bring our hearts to this place so he’s pointing out the heart attitudes that need to change.

      God I pray make us one with you and each other!

      Be blessed sisters!

    • Tired Mom

      The same is true in parenting. Each child is different and responds differently to discipline. I am frequently reminded of this by my daughter. “That’s not fair.” I have to remind her that I sometimes have to parent her brother differently. Its still disciplining, just differently.

      • Jenny

        Yes, completely agree! I’m constantly hearing things aren’t perfectly fair across the board for my children, but because of their age variance….punishments and rewards are different for each child! So true for this reading, there is more to a person or story than meets the eye

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