Reflections: Septuagesima

Today’s Reading: Matthew 20:1-16

Daily Lectionary: Job 9:1-35; John 4:46-54

“Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” (Matthew 20:15)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Fair is the enemy of good. Nobody believes it because we’re so desperate for fairness that we get tunnel vision. Fair is what looks at my sister’s half of the cookie and decides it’s bigger, so some of it should be mine. But the Lord’s commandment says, “You shall not steal.” Good goes a lot farther than fair. It is not just, “Thou shalt not steal,” but more. We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions or get them in any dishonest way but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income. 

Good doesn’t change. It’s spelled out in God’s Law that you should love your neighbor in these ways. Fair gets flexible. The workers who agreed to a wage were perfectly happy with the denarius until they saw someone who did less work get the same wage. Then fair changed. They knew they should be getting more.

When it comes to the word “fair” what we usually mean is “we covet,” but we found a nicer way of saying it. It probably says something about us that given the chance, we try to impose fairness before we ever think to impose goodness. But at the end of the day, God would rather be generous than fair. He could do fair and punish every sinner with the hell they deserve. Fair is your going to hell for your sins. The Lord is not fair, but He is good. Thanks be to God. He doesn’t disregard justice but He takes it on Himself. He pays for you. He gets punished for your sins. The unfair sacrifice fulfills the Law, takes your sins, and dies that you would live. 

Stop worrying about what everyone else has got or what’s fair. Start here, in this one place, where the Lord bore the unfair Cross for you and for all. Start here. Life isn’t fair and we’re on the better end of it. All of us. We can rejoice that God not only forgives our sins, but our neighbors’, too. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O Lord, graciously hear the prayers of Your people that we who justly suffer the consequence of our sin may be mercifully delivered by Your goodness to the glory of Your name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

-Rev. Harrison Goodman is content executive for Higher Things.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Discover new insights from each line of the Psalms in Engaging the Psalms: A Guide for Reflection and Prayer. Read, repeat, and return to the Lord as you walk through all 150 Psalms. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.