Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: In light of the trauma in the world (and especially in our church) how can we call God fair? Or is that not the right question?

Concordia Lutheran Church

January 31, 2010

Is God Fair?

Matthew 20:1-16


May the gifts and the peace of God our Father, and our Master, Jesus Christ be poured into your lives, as you work in His Kingdom!

Parabolic Treatment of Parables!

I have had a hard time with this message this week. No matter how many times I keep going back to “the rule” about understanding parables, I keep going back to the concept of my title. Is God Fair?

I’ve been asked the question a few times by different people this week, or perhaps it is asked – “how can this be right? How can this situation be fair? How could God allow this?” And the answers I know, even though I know they are right, seem shallow as they are said to eyes that have more water flowing through them, than our flood channel did last week.

As I look at this passage, if I reduce it to a lesson on morality, if I try to garnish from it ethics, or a code of justice, I fail. It goes so far beyond these things, that it seems to contradict them. As one person replied to my question, “fairness is a human concept and does not apply to God. Whatever He does, is right.” Hands down, the best answer Tom.

God isn’t fair, He is generous.

And this parable isn’t about the question of fairness, it’s about the outrageous generosity and love of God, as He invites people to share in His kingdom – together.

The basic rule about parables – they exist for one teachable moment, one reason. They don’t exist to offer social commentary. In this parable, that one moment is seen in the amazing question Jesus asks…. “Friend… do you begrudge my generosity?”

Do We Begrudge Jesus His Generosity?


The Prodigal Brother

The Island of Misfit Toys

Does it make sense, that someone would begrudge God the opportunity to show someone else His love? Could we find ourselves jealous, because God’s love is poured out on someone we find not worthy of such love?

Before we get all righteous, and think that we would never, ever deny God that opportunity, let’s consider that scripture is chock full of such examples.

Start with the prodigal’s brother – who got ticked off, because his father wanted to celebrate the return of the long messed up little brother. He resented his father’s love, shown to his own brother!

Hey, God’s people would never be like that – right? Especially those in leadership – right? Well listen to these words,

“He yelled at God, "God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That's why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! 3 "So, God, if you won't kill them, kill me! I'm better off dead!" 4 God said, "What do you have to be angry about?" 5 But Jonah just left. He went out of the city to the east and sat down in a sulk. He put together a makeshift shelter of leafy branches and sat there in the shade to see what would happen to the city.” Jnh 4:2 (MSG)

Talk about someone not just upset – but bitterly angry about God’s grace…

We never ever get that way… or do we?

What about when we have trouble welcoming someone into “our” group? Maybe they did something to us in the past, and we are unwilling to forgive – do we begrudge God sharing with them the same love that He pours out on us? Maybe they are a bit different than us, does that mean we walk away from them, and not share the same concern for them, that we do for those….like us? Or maybe even recognizing the differences becomes so awkward, we walk away - rather than rejoice that God will give us the love, the grace, and the strength to do His work, to show them His love, and His mercy.

The funny this is, in this vineyard, the work isn’t pulling out weeds, or harvesting grapes to make good wine, the work is minister to each other, assuring each other of God’s love, His grace, His forgiveness.

No matter who they are. No matter how awkward it is to love them, no matter the cost to us….for our cost is nothing compared to the cost of the cross.

Or will be begrudge Jesus His generosity?

Will we resent that God has marked them as our brothers and sisters, and indeed our friends.

The Generosity – Friendship/Partnership

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