“It’s not fair!” Who do you picture saying this? I know my first thought is of a child; probably one who isn’t getting their way and is fussing about it.
I most recently heard this out of the mouth of an adult. Incidentally, it was also one who wasn’t getting their way and was fussing about it….
As our culture has been shifting away from a biblical world view for some time, there are some principles that are being lost, redefined and perverted. I’ve noticed that “fairness” is one of them.
The concept of “fair” or “just” has been replaced with “entitled” and “equal.” But if you take a biblical look at it, “fair” does not necessarily mean “equal.” Often what is decried as “unfair” really isn’t “unfair” or “unjust.” But somehow this generation has been trained to expect that they should receive an equal share in privileges and benefits without any of the costs, and with disregard to any agreements or contracts that were in place.
Shall we mess the culture’s view of “fair” a bit? Let’s look at Matthew 20, for example.
In Matthew 20:1-16 Jesus tells the parable of the workers in the vineyard. The Readers’ Digest version is this:
An owner hires some workers at the beginning of the day who agreed to work for 100 bucks a day. (Well, a denarius, but we’ll say $100.) He kept hiring additional people throughout the day, so at the end of the day there were people who worked all day, and people who only worked an hour.
When the owner handed out paychecks, he paid the people who were hired last and worked the least $100 for the day - the same as those who were hired first and worked the whole day.
But, it’s not fair! Right? Or, is it? Those hired first agreed to work for $100 per day, and they were paid $100 per day. Where is the “unfairness” of being paid exactly what was agreed? Was the pay “equal” to everyone based on their work? No. Were the first workers “entitled” to more because they worked more? No. They agreed to work for $100, and the Bible says it was “fair” that they were paid what they agreed.
This may not be one of the nice, happy parables that gets preached on regularly, but it is truth. The next time we think something is “unfair,” we need to really stop and evaluate: Is it really “unfair,” or is it exactly what we agreed, but we just think we should be entitled to more?
I have been part of the hiring process of new employees at our company for some time. In one instance, we were preparing to hire someone who would be my subordinate, but we were proposing would be paid more than me. The owners were a little concerned at how I might take this. I assured them that I agreed to work for my current pay, and what anyone else gets paid does not change what I agreed to work for. I appreciated the owners’ concern, but the new person was worth the increased wage, and I had no right to think I should be paid more because someone else was.
The world might say this was unfair, but it was genuinely settled in my heart that it was fair and just to receive what I agreed. I had no resentment toward the new person or their pay, and I enjoy a great working relationship with everyone involved to this day. Things could have gone very differently if I didn’t have a biblical view of “fair” in this instance.
Truth can mess you up, but if you let it get in you, truth with set you free.
What truth messes with you? More importantly, what truth messed with you until it set you free?