We serve a God who outrages
There’s a fascinating story Jesus tells in the 20th chapter of Matthew. He describes a land owner who heads down to the New Testament equivalent of Home Depot to hire some workers for his field. They agreed to the day’s wages and off they went. About ten a.m. he hired some more as he did again at noon and three p.m.
At five p.m. he found several more men still looking for work and sent them out with the rest. At the end of the day he paid them all the wages promised early that morning. Those who had worked all day were ‘outraged’ at this arrangement … after all they put in a long, hot full day!
Now before we get to the boss’ explanation, we must first admit that this treatment bothers us deeply! This boss represents Jesus to us and we find his behavior ‘outrageous.’ It isn’t fair… no union chief in the United States would allow something like this to happen. And it’s not received well:
“Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much
as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.”
Matthew 20:12 NLT
The part of me that picks up this attitude of resentment, disappointment and offense has everything to do with hierarchy – who sits first chair, who has the corner office, who gets all the breaks while I get all the ulcers!
The land owner tells the grumblers, “I haven’t cheated anyone. You got what I promised you. I haven’t been unfair… just generous in a way that you don’t understand. It’s my money and I can spend it as I desire.”
Our ‘tidy minds’ like circumstances to turn out as we think they should. The balance should never tip anywhere that we don’t expect it to tip. Our delicate sensibilities are often messed with when someone ‘not deserving’ gets treated better than we do. After all, bad things should never happen to good people.
And we’re always the judge as to who is good and who is bad.
The system of law is easy to figure out; you get what you deserve. The system of grace is foreign to us: God deals with us according to who He is, not according to who we are and our staunch belief that we should be treated better.
This week, quit trying to be God’s bookkeeper and find joy and satisfaction in his constant goodness to us.
“For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good,
and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.”
Matthew 5:45 NLT