And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.”
Not only did this landowner reverse the order of payment, but he paid everyone the same amount. The first early-morning workers agreed to receive a denarius. The landowner did not change the level of pay as the day went on; everyone received the same generous reward. Those who only worked an hour—only employed at the end of the day—were paid the same as those who worked all day.
In God’s kingdom everyone gets what they don’t deserve. Grace is the great equalizer that humanity is looking for and needs. For those who think they deserve better or look down on others, grace humbles us. For those who have gone without and have been oppressed by the systems of this world, grace lifts them up and gives them more than the systems of this world could ever offer. Eternal life is the justice that God has in mind. No one can boast about this justice. No one can take credit for this justice that comes by grace. No one earned it, and no one can take it away.
In these days of great confusion, hurt, violence and injustice, may we be reminded of the ultimate justice that has been laid out for all. True justice flows from His grace. No one is totally right, and no one is totally wrong. We all have a part to play in the mess we are in. To point fingers is only to cave into the enemy’s system. The cross is the only way through—radical self-sacrificing love.
Fairness is only achieved in a culture of grace.
Grace brings everyone to the same level.
We all get what we don't deserve in Jesus.
We get eternal life.
Trying to understand justice, without first understanding His gift of justice from above, will cause us to have an unending appetite to make up for all the unfairness done to us. Fairness is needed, but only those who have received their fairness, or justice, from the cross can bring true fairness back into a broken system without causing more unfairness towards others.
May He be the one we turn to for our sense of justice. May He be the one who teaches us by His Spirit how to bring grace like justice into our cities and our nation. Let us not turn to grumbling towards each other, but may we turn to Him with thankfulness.