Once upon a time there was a group of workers. Some workers worked 8 hours, some worked 6, and some worked only one. But they all got paid the same amount at the end of the day, which seemed grossly unfair to the ones who had worked the most. (Matthew 20:1-16, more or less)
This parable drives me crazy sometimes because it runs so contrary to my inward sense of right and wrong. People should get what they deserve, what they earn. If one person worked 8 hours, they should make more than the person who only worked one – it’s only fair. And yet Jesus said that God’s Kingdom works like this, that people are given blessings not according to merit but according to the goodness of the Father. Our standard is merit, and God’s standard is generosity.
I really get off track with the Lord when I believe that I deserve anything from Him at all. When I begin to think that my rule-keeping or faithfulness earns me more favor with God, I am leaning on my own righteousness. But the Gospel is clear that righteousness is always a gift, and anything we do is merely a response to that gift. My life should not be about counting the hours that I’ve worked compare to others, wondering why those who do less than me get more than me. Instead, my life should be spent with my eyes focused on the Lord, seeing Him as my reward, not any “stuff” that comes from His hands.