In ancient times, someone looking for work would be grateful for the chance to tend a vineyard. However, in Jesus’ parable of the workers (Matt. 20), the joy of getting hired in the morning was replaced by envy and anger as new hires were added. Was it because the owner came along and treated them poorly? No, it was because of what happened at pay-time. When the wages were passed out, the early morning hires got a denarius; but so did the rest. EVERYONE got the same pay regardless of the hours spent working, so suddenly the idea of fairness crowded out the joy of getting work. And at the end of the parable, the owner says this to the ones unhappy:
“Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?” – Matthew 20:15 NKJV
The pursuit of fairness can be a minefield of danger, for the measure we use is often flawed. What seemed “fair” in the morning became “unfair” later in the day; and it all had to do with expectations. The first ones made a contract for a denarius, but the later ones agreed to work and trust the owner to give them “whatever was right” (v.4, 7). Excitement with God’s provisions can get neutralized quickly if our eyes are on others instead of Him. We’re recipients of grace, not entitlement. He is good, what He chooses is right and we must trust that His motives are too.