We as humans have a sense of justice, which is why we want fairness to be maintained. If we share our things with others, we expect them to share their things with us. It’s just what we expect.
The hired laborers in the parable of the workers in the vineyard expected each to be paid according to the amount of work accomplished (Matt. 20). It’s what they considered fair and just. We might tend to agree with their logic – I would if I had been in their shoes. They thought that the worker who labored less than half the day shouldn’t get the same pay as the one who worked all day – after all, they had been working a lot longer and harder, and earned it. It makes sense.
But it also makes sense when the landowner tells 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?” (v. 13-15)
Sometimes, the right thing doesn’t seem fair, when in actuality, it is. I didn’t ask to be the firstborn, I didn’t ask to be an example for my brothers. But it’s according to God’s design, even if it doesn’t seem fair to me.
Why, if something really seems right and fair, would we view it as unfair? Because we are selfish humans, and we think if someone gets something, we deserve it, too. It seems fair and just to us – everyone gets equal opportunities, treatment, etc., so I don’t miss out on anything. I want what’s best for me. If we started putting others first, maybe our selfish attitudes would change, and we wouldn’t really care if it was fair to us or not. If we’re to “value others above ourselves,” how is that being demonstrated through our selfishness?
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)