If you have been complaining that life is not fair, think again. No, I am not saying that life is fair. I am saying think again if it is right for you to complain. I used to complain about some things in life. I remember one such occasion, years ago, where I was having a conversation with my cousin. I was grumbling and spitting out complaints of something that I could hardly remember now but I could hardly forget what my cousin blurted out in response to my melancholic view of the matter. Quite annoyed with me, he said , “Why do you keep on complaining about many things?” The moment he said that, I literally shut up! Unbelievably, until he said that, I never realized I was a complainer and had been beefing about almost anything. From then on, I made it a point not to air out my complaints, because I realized I needed to change my attitude. I did have a huge change of attitude after hearing that mind-opening line.
Based on experience, one common reason why we grumble and complain is that we feel that we deserve more or that we deserve better. Dissatisfaction triggers complaints. And one of the things that people gets dissatisfied about is the unfairness of a situation.
Yes, life is unfair. And it will never be fair. We experience that. In our relationship in the family, with our friends, in our work place, at church, in school, and practically anywhere else. In one way or another, we face and meet unfairness of life. But, as a Christian, there is one thing that God made me realized. I should be grateful that life is not fair.
There were some things in the past which I have complained for the unfairness of the situation and even asked God about it because I did not understand. Later on, I realized, God had just another plan for me. A better one according to His perfect wisdom. When we consider how wise and loving God is, we are confident that whatever unfairness we sense are actually part of God’s sovereign will. He is in control. He knows what He is doing. Those unfair situations are there because God allowed them for a purpose. They are unfair to our understanding but when we are living in God’s will, these unfair times are good for working out God’s purpose in our life. If we so complain for many unfair situations, then how much more should the Apostle Paul complain and grumble for all the unfair and unjust treatments he received. Yet he did not. On the contrary he said,
Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, “Rejoice!”– Philippians 4:4 (WEB)
“Do all things without complaining and arguing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without defect in the middle of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you are seen as lights in the world…”– Philippians 2:14-15 (WEB)
Even from the start, life was never fair so never expect it to be fair. And be thankful for that. The moment Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17), God did not treat us as we deserve to be treated. God treated us with His amazing grace. In His great grace, He clothed Adam and Eve wih garments of animal skin. Do they deserve that? No, they don’t. When we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Do we deserve that? No. Is that fair? No. If we so desire for fairness, then we desire for what we truly deserve. And, there are so many things that we believe we deserve but in truth we don’t. But God did not treat us as we deserve from all our sins. He treated us according to His rich grace.
In Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus told a parable about a master of the household who hired workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the hired laborers that he will pay them a denarius a day and told them that “whatever is right, I will give you” (Matthew 20:4). He hired laborers three times in different hours such that the first laborers worked for the whole day and the last laborers worked for few hours. At the end of the day, the master called the laborers to pay them their wages. He started with the last group of laborers and paid them a denarius and he paid the same amount to all and even to the first laborers who worked the whole day. Was it fair? We could almost hear the complaints of the first laborers who worked hard and for longer hours than the rest. If this had happened today, we may be hearing calls for justice and equality from the labor sector splattered across social media or a crowd rallying on the street. Naturally, the first laborers approached the master with complaints as to why the last laborers, who worked for only an hour, received the same amount of wage (Matthew 20:11-12).
We usually have the same mind set such as these first laborers. But was the master really unfair? Take note of his response.
“But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me for a denarius? Take that which is yours, and go your way. It is my desire to give to this last just as much as to you. Isn’t it lawful for me to do what I want to with what I own? Or is your eye evil, because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.”– Matthew 20:13-16 (WEB)
The truth is that the laborers were not complaining about the amount they received. They agreed for it. They were complaining that those last laborers received the same wage when they worked for only a few hours. When the master asked, “Is your eye evil beccause I am good?”, he was actually pointing out the envy and jealousy of the first laborers. They thought that the last laborers did not deserve the wage because they worked for a few hours. But the master said that he will give what is right. And He did. He paid them all equally not because each group of laborers deserved it but because he is a generous master. So the last became first and the first became last.
God treats us the same way. He never treats us according to what we deserve because He treats us according to who He is. He is a gracious and merciful God and He does what He sees is right. Sometimes, we look at others and we look with evil eye. We get envious because we think they do not deserve what they have. We deserve it better than them. But not with God. He gives the same grace to all. The same with salvation that we have in Jesus. Salvation does not rest according to how long we have known God or how much we have worked in the kingdom. Salvation is never by our own works. It is God’s free gift. It is God’s work of grace. Those who come to God last, receive the same grace as those who have known God first. They receive the same blessing. It is not fair because God does not work according to what we expect and to how we do things. God works according to His grace. God’s grace does not give what we deserve. It gives what God generously desires to give us because He sees it right to give to us. Not because we deserve it but because God desires it out of His rich grace for us.
The moment we ask God to make things fair for us, we ask God to give us what we truly deserve. Would we really like that?
The context in Matthew 20:1-16 is about God’s grace towards us. But I like to apply this towards the unfairness and injustice we may experience around us. We are to extend the grace of God to others. We must not be blind and mute to injustices but we should not also retaliate in resentment and in a manner that does not speak of God’s grace. I encourage you to trust in the great love that Jesus Christ has for you. I encourage you to trust in His perfect wisdom. Whenever you face an unfair situation, remember, God has His hand of grace over the situation. He gives what He sees is right for you. Let it go and let God work things out for you.