If you have followed my blog any amount of time, you know that I use illustrations from my daily life with my four kiddos a lot. God use ordinary and teaches me a lot. On this particular day, it was a fight over brownie batter that triggered the question, “How does God’s grace work?”

Isaac asked to lick the beaters after I mixed up the brownie batter. Seanna came along and asked for the spatula and then Gav asked for the bowl. Isaac said, ” That’s not fair, I helped make them and I should get to lick the most and they didn’t help at all.”

The Lesson

 
Every now and then, God gives me a word. So, I asked if I could tell him a story. I explained Jesus’ parable in Matthew 20:1-16. I’m sure my paraphrase wasn’t as good as the biblical account so I’ve put it here for you to remind you what was going on.
 

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.  He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing.  He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’  So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing.  About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.  So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.  When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.  ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

So, I said to my now attentive 11 yr old, “Didn’t I give you what we agreed on? I did not go back on what I promised. I wasn’t unfair to you, right? I can give however I want of my own possessions.”

 
I’m not sure he agreed with me. He begrudgingly shook his head and walked away. Me, on the other hand, my head was spinning. This lesson wasn’t just for him. I need to consider how I felt about God being unfair. 
 

Can God be Unfair?

 
How many times have I felt this same “unfairness” in my own heart and mind? What right do I have to be envious of another’s blessings? Hasn’t God in His graciousness already given me more than I deserve?
 
The whole point is that “God’s kingdom is not like the kingdom of this world.” (John 18:36) If we worked a whole day and some one else only and hour at the same job for the same pay, we would be outraged!
 
This is what these workers were feeling! This is how Isaac felt about sharing his brownie batter with others who didn’t labor for it! But, in God’s kingdom, “the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Our salvation started with grace, salvation through faith, and ends with grace, acceptance into a kingdom we don’t deserve to enter.
 

What is God’s Grace?

GRACE GRACE GOD'S GRACE

This is what it boils down to really: GRACE! Grace is defined most often as “God’s unmerited favor.” This means we are actually given what we don’t deserve and furthermore, we aren’t given what we do deserve, “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:23)

In his commentary on the passage, David Guzik says, “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.”

My take away is this, I should just be SOO overwhelmingly, over the moon glad that God chose me to work in His vineyard and is giving me a reward, that I take my undeserved wages and praise Him for it!! There is too much room for pride, bitterness, and unrest toward God when we start comparing to others and making ourselves judges of God’s fairness. The truth is that God is never unfair.  He is completely holy, just, generous and fair and we should count ourselves blessed to “work” for such an amazing employer!

What the Bible Says About God’s Grace

The Bible mentions grace in some form around 200 times. So, it’s a pretty important concept to understand. The Lord declares to Moses in Exodus 34:6 (NIV) that, “The Lord is the compassionate and gracious God.”  It is an amazing attribute of God that we see dealt out on sinful man. Let’s look at what the Bible says about God’s grace.

Old Testament Mentions of God’s Grace

In the Old Testament we see God’s grace coupled with His compassion on His people, the children of Israel. This grace was show to them even in face of their constant disobedience and sin.

  • But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence. (2 Kings 13:23 NIV)
  • But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15 NIV)
  • The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. (Psalm 145:8 NIV)
  • Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18 NIV)

New Testament Mentions of God’s Grace

In the New Testament, we see the expression of God’s grace in the gift of His son Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation from sin. Again, it is completely undeserved but is given out of the goodness of God’s nature. We also see this idea that because of God’s grace to us, we should live as people of grace.

  • The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NIV)
  • For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14 NIV)
  • For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (Romans 12:3 NIV) 
  • For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)
  • Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6 NIV)
  • Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)
  • Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.(1 Peter 4:10 NIV)
  • And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.(1 Peter 5:10 NIV)
  • But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18 NIV)
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