In life, we all feel like we have been cheated at times. We do not always get what we think we deserve. When this happens, we can suffer from resentment.
I think we can all relate to our team being cheated out of winning a game or a championship because the referee made a bad call or a series of bad calls. Or we pay for a combo meal at the fast food drive-thru and get home to find out that our order of fries is missing. We deserve those fries because we paid for them.
There are two types of resentment. The first type of resentment is when we do not get what we think we deserve. The second type of resentment is when someone else receives what we do not think they deserve. Comparing ourselves to others can lead to jealousy, bitterness, anger and all kinds of negative emotions that steal our peace and happiness.
In the gospel of Matthew Jesus tells a very interesting story. He tells the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16). Jesus begins most of his parables in the book of Matthew with the phrase, “The kingdom of Heaven is like…” Jesus teaches us about God and His kingdom through telling stories. In this parable, the landowner represents God, the workers are believers, and the vineyard is the kingdom of Heaven. I will summarize the story and put it in today’s language to help you better understand.
The landowner goes out early in the morning and hires workers to work in his vineyard for the day. He promises to pay them $100. They agree and begin working around 6:00 AM. Then the landowner hires another set of workers at 9:00 AM to work for the rest of the day promising them a fair wage. Then he hires three more sets of workers at 12:00 PM, 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM. At the end of the workday (6:00 PM), the landowner pays his workers beginning with the last ones hired. He gave $100 to the workers who only worked for one hour. Wow! This is incredibly generous. The workers who worked all day began to get excited thinking they will make more money. But the landowner pays all the workers the same amount of money, $100. The workers hired first grumble and complain because they do not think it is fair. But the landowner said, “I paid you the amount we agreed upon. It’s my money, and I can spend it how I chose. Why are you envious, because I am generous?”
It’s a fascinating story which has many spiritual and eternal implications. I think it’s interesting that the workers who were hired first only thought $100 was unfair because they compared their amount of work with the other workers. They received the wage that was promised to them, but they resented the other workers because they worked harder and longer than them. I believe comparing ourselves to others in one of the biggest challenges in our culture. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others. We think, “How do we measure up? How good is my life compared to someone else?” And social media multiplies the problem because of everyone post pictures of their “great lives” on Facebook and Instagram.
When God is good to us, we are blessed, #blessed. When God is good to someone else, we say, “Why them? They do not deserve it. We have worked harder than them. We have better morals than them. We pray more than they do. They don’t deserve it.”
Jealousy steals our joy and destroys relationships with friends, family, and coworkers. When God blesses someone else, if we truly love and care for them, we would celebrate with them. “Wow! God has blessed you with a raise, a new house, a nice vacation, etc. PRAISE GOD! I am so happy for you.”
As we see in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), God rejects our comparisons. God showers us with His amazing grace, and His grace supersedes fairness. God does not give us what we deserve. He gives us way more than we deserve. Instead of comparing ourselves with others, let’s celebrate and be grateful for all of God’s blessings in our lives.
Jonathan Howes has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from Jacksonville State University and a Master in Divinity Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the lead pastor for Graystone Church - 1551 Ozora Road Loganville, GA 30052. Phone: (770) 466-3159