That's Not Fair
Gospel Message based on the Parable of the Workers (Matthew 20:1-16)
Two large clear jars, a large bag of wrapped candy, six quarters and a cell phone to use for calculator and timer.
“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6
(Before you begin, place the jars about 8-10 feet apart and fill one with candy.)
How many of you do chores? Oh, a lot of groans. Aren’t they a little better if you get paid for them? Did you know that the minimum wage in Texas is 7.25 and hour? How would you like to get paid that for your chores? Well for the next three minutes, I want to hire one of you. But I’m not going to pay you minimum wage, I am going to pay you $10 an hour. How does that sound? Let’s see. I need the calculator on my phone. $10/hour divided by 60 minutes in an hour is 16 cents a minute. So that’s .48 cents for the next three minutes. I will just round it up to 50 cents. Who wants to work for the next three minutes for 50 cents? Great! Here is what you do. I will set the timer on my phone for three minutes. I want you to move the candy one piece at a time from one jar to the other jar. Ready, set go. (Make conversation while the child is working such as, I am going to take a rest over here while you work. Are you working up a sweat?) Hmm, you have been working for a minute and a half, I think I will hire another worker. (Choose another child to help with the task.) Ok, we’ve got 30 seconds left, let me hire one more of you. (The last child barely has time to begin before you call, “Time!”) Now, get in line to be paid in this order. The last one I hired gets in line first, then the second one and the first one is at the back of the line. Let me get into my money bag here. You get 50 cents. You get 50 cents and you get 50 cents. Now is that fair? Let’s find out!
What we did here is almost exactly what happened in Matthew 20. I want to read you about the workers in the Vineyard from Matthew 20. I am going to read from a translation called the message to make it easier for you to understand. Before we start, who know what wages are? Wages are what we earn for what we do like when your dad gets paid for his work.
“God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work. Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went. He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?’ They said, ‘Because no one hired us. He told them to go to work in his vineyard. When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first. Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’ He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’ Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”
The good news is that God is not fair, he is gracious. Remember what grace is? God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. If he was fair, the wages of sin is death so we would all earn eternal death. But instead he gave us his son Jesus to take the punishment for our sin. That was grace!
How many of you are glad that God is not fair? He is better than fair! If we trust him, we don’t get what we deserve. We get what we did not earn, eternal life!