Fairness is not the dynamic at all, fairness has been nailed petty and squirming and horrid to the tree and killed publicly. Our lust for fairness is squarely of the flesh.
7 “Will any one of you who has a servant 3 plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, 4 and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” Luke 17:7-10
At first glance this parable seems so terrible! We are to just serve and serve and serve some more, with no hope of reward at all? Serving is boring. What happened to all the talk of love and favor and blessing? Aren’t we the bride of Christ? Serving without reward is not even biblical, Jesus! Didn’t He read Hebrews 11:6, that God rewards those who diligently seek Him? Why would He have taught this? I confess, I always hated this parable, it just doesn’t seem like a blessing.
It all takes on a different flavor when you look at it from the perspective of grace and from the perspective of the gift culture! We are not a servant who serves in order to receive a compliment or public recognition, because we receive all as a gift, and live for the joy of giving gifts. There is no record kept, because we are no longer under the law (Romans 6:14). We are truly all unworthy servants, and we receive gifts that transcend and in fact ignore what we might have earned. Nothing is counted as being fair or unfair, because such great gifts are given that it could never be fair. Fairness has meaning only under the judgement of a standard, and such standards have been blasted away by the power of the resurrection. We owe 10,000 talents (1 talent = 75 lbs. of gold!) while the unfairness we decry involves a few days’ labor at minimum wage. In our concern for fairness we are like Bernie Madoff, who swindled people out of billions of dollars, making noise because someone owes us a hundred dollars. Fairness is not the dynamic at all, fairness has been nailed petty and squirming and horrid to the tree and killed publicly. Our lust for fairness is squarely of the flesh.
When we kill off this lust for fairness, it opens the doors to tremendous blessing. I recall a family meeting, where one of my sons was bemoaning the fact that one of my other sons was being singled out unfairly for a certain blessing. He was calling for me to be more even and fair with them. I told him that I squarely rejected it, that I had no intention at all of being fair! Our house operates under grace, so I will bless whomever I wish as seems best to me for the moment! I had in fact in the prior months spent far more money than I had ever spent on the other boys buying “Mr. Fairness” guitars and music equipment, and this transcended all ideas of equal spending at the time. I pointed out that everyone was thrilled to see him receive these things, since he is a gifted musician and he needed a nice guitar to empower his talents. Now I was empowering the gifts and talents of his brother, and I was not thinking about what is fair, but what is needful for his blessing. If we can’t learn to be unworthy servants, to bless and bless and bless without thought of fairness or reward, we are going to have trouble living in the gift culture which is the Kingdom of God. God is the vineyard owner who pays the guys who worked five minutes the same as the guys who worked all day (Matthew 20:1-16). His blessings transcend our tiny and selfish notions of justice.