I really want God to be gracious to me! Don’t you? But sometimes I want God to be just to others. I like it when he gives me things I don’t deserve. It makes me feel special. It demonstrates His love for me. It’s great to feel loved by God. But, I’m often a little jealous of His love for the world. I want to keep God’s love for myself, as a possessive boy friend hogs all the attention of the girl he wishes to dominate. So, when God is generous to others and gives them what they don’t deserve, I don’t like it. Sometimes I pout, just like the vineyard workers in Matthew Chapter 20 who spent all day in the fields and watched the master pay the late comers the same amount as he paid them. By doing that, they complained, “you make them equal to us.” Or also, like the brother of the prodigal son who did not like the generosity of his father with the wayward boy who came home. I often want Grace for myself, but Justice for others.

In the parable of the vineyard workers, the master answers the complainers by saying, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious of my generosity?”

Robert De Moor tells about growing up: Back in Ontario when the apples ripened, Mom would sit all seven of us down, Dad included, with pans and paring knives until the mountain of fruit was reduced to neat rows of filled canning jars. She never bothered keeping track of how many we did, though the younger ones undoubtedly proved more of a nuisance than a help: cut fingers, squabbles over who got which pan, apple core fights. But when the job was done, the reward for everyone was the same: the largest chocolate-dipped cone money could buy. A stickler might argue it wasn’t quite fair since the older ones actually peeled apples. But I can’t remember anyone complaining about it. A family understands it operates under a different set of norms than a courtroom. In fact, when the store ran out of ice cream and my younger brother had to make do with a popsicle, we felt sorry for him despite his lack of productivity (he’d eaten all the apples he’d peeled that day—both of them). God wants all his children to enjoy the complete fullness of eternal life. No true child of God wants it any other way.

“But Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26