The Unfairness of Generosity

You probably know that I am a huge baseball fan. I have been all my life. As a baseball fan this has been an interesting year for two reasons. First, my favorite team has been uncharacteristically awful, at least out of character for the past five or six years. The second reason is because baseball started using video replays to make sure they get the umpire’s call correct.

Since there are people who count everything, I’m sure someone could provide the precise numbers for how many times my team has been helped by the replay and how many times they have been hurt. Without any statistical evidence I’m going to guess it is probably about fifty-fifty. Over the course of the long season, replay has probably made very little difference.

There is one justification that is repeatedly used for having a replay system – they just want to get the call correct. It seems there is a compelling need to eliminate any mistakes by the umpires because every team wants to be treated fairly. Fairness is the motivating factor behind much of life.

I don’t know about you, but I like to be treated fairly. It is upsetting when I feel like life is not fair or that I don’t get a fair shake in a specific circumstance.

One of the main candidates for Governor in the upcoming election is a man I expected to support. He became interesting to me when I learned that he was in a wheelchair. It’s about time someone in a chair is recognized as being as smart and capable as anyone else. It has been a very long time since FDR was President, and even then he tried to hide the fact he needed a fairnesswheelchair.

It is time for some handicap pride. Maybe we should organize a few parades and design a colorful flag. Electing one of ours to a visible post will be a major step in the right direction. I propose a national holiday on January 8th, Stephen Hawking’s birthday.

I was on board with this potential Governor until I learned some things about his handicap. He was injured as a young man when a tree fell on him and broke his back while he was running. Afterwards he filed a lawsuit against the homeowner (after all he is a lawyer) and won a settlement of 10 million dollars.

Here is the real irony of the story. Several years later when he served as Attorney General for the state, he supported legal changes that would prevent such lawsuits from awarding more than $750,000. He has also been quite zealous in opposing changes required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the legislation that has benefitted all of us wheelchair users. If it were not for the ADA this man would not even be able to get to his office.

From where I sit, it is like he said to the rest of us, I got mine but you can’t have yours!

It’s just not fair. A man who lived 24 years with the ability to walk and then when he loses that ability and requires a wheelchair he gets $10 million dollars. What about those of us who have spent our whole lives with a disability and we get nothing?

Perhaps like baseball, we need to change the rules so that everyone is treated fairly!

Jesus told a story for people like you and me; people who want things to be fair. It was a tale about a man who needed some day laborers so he hired a group to begin work early in the morning. They agreed upon a fair wage and everyone was happy.

Later that morning, realizing he had more work than workers, he went and found additional laborers. This time they were only told that he would do what is right when it came time to write out paychecks. The job was apparently much bigger than anticipated and he had to return for more workers three times, the final group only had a short window of sunlight left to work.

When it was time to settle up and pay for the day’s labor is when things got sticky. You know they talked as they worked. They all had a pretty good idea what to expect concerning wages.

Things especially looked good for those who had toiled all day in the hot sun as they watched him give the last group to arrive the same amount he had promised the first group. This must mean he is going to multiply what he promised by the amount of time they worked. Dreams of an evening out on the town swirled in their minds. But it didn’t happen. When it was all said and done, everyone received the same amount, exactly what he had promised the first group.

It was a fair wage, they had agreed to that at the beginning. They had no complaint, but they did complain. Who can blame them? Didn’t they work harder? Longer? They were no “Johnny-come-latelys.” They had been there since the beginning. If you can afford to give them that much then surely you can afford to give us more. That’s what I would have said.

Jesus completes his story with these words on the lips of the landowner, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

How can I be upset because another man gets $10 million along with his wheelchair? The truth is God has given me much more than I earned, and certainly much more than I deserve. He promised to take care of me and He has. It is not my place to disparage what He allows others to have.

I feel guilty for criticizing God’s generosity to others after He has been so generous to me.

Unlike what they are trying to do in baseball, life is not fair. When we strive for fairness we will find nothing but frustration and discouragement. There will always be others who have more and enjoy more than you and me. Our only task is to learn to appreciate and enjoy what comes to us.

Rejoice in God’s generosity, not only toward you, but toward others as well.

By the way, if God is going to continue to express His generosity by allowing this man to be Governor, He will probably have to do it without my vote – and that’s ok.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Unfairness of Generosity

  1. All of the workers may receive the same wage, but those who arrived first get the satisfaction of having spent their day in useful service.

  2. And you are going to vote for who????? Based on what?????

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