Life’s Not Fair and That’s a Good Thing

We don’t need a crown to find grace and our purpose

Mary Gallagher
Jun 26 · 4 min read

Life’s not fair and that’s a good thing.

We learn this in Matthew 20: 1–16

The story goes like this. A man hired some workers to work in his vineyard for the day. Some started at sunrise, some came on at noon, and others only did a few hours work in the evening. At the end of the day, the owner of the vineyard paid each worker the same wage — the full day’s wage. Of course, those who worked all day were outraged that those who only worked a few hours received the same pay. They all exclaimed, “That’s not fair.”

I know this feeling all too well, don’t you?

“But the boss replied, ‘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?’” (Matthew 20:13–15)

The innocence of youth

When my youngest son Sean was still riding a tricycle my oldest challenged him to a race down the long driveway. Ryan, older by more than 3 years, of course, won the race. When he reached the finish line he waved his fist triumphantly and proclaimed, “I’m the winner!” Sean immediately raised his fist in the air and announced, just as proudly, “I’m the loser!”

If only childlike innocence and joy could stay with us.

Where did the joy go?

We lose our joy when we find that being the loser isn’t what is rewarded in this life. Can we find a way to retain this innocence in joy for ourselves and our children? Is it possible to keep in the forefront of our minds and spirits the truth that Jesus taught?

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16, NIV)

Can we be okay with not getting the prize, the crown, the adoration, the recognition, the award, and the pat on the back? Can we find joy in the work, the play, the interaction, and the privilege to be part of this life?

It’s upside-down and backward

It’s a sobering thought to think of how we might behave differently and strive less if we knew that losing was the way to winning. If we soul-deep believed that God’s kingdom, upside-down and backward from this world’s system, was present for us today.

I often lament to God feeling much like the worker who started at sunrise.

I’m the girl everyone comes to for advice, support, and encouragement to take the next step. Yay! I love that I can help. But time and time again, I’ve watched those same people move on past me, over me, sometimes stepping on me, to get ahead.

It’s then I wonder, “How is this fair, God?”

She didn’t even turn around to say Thank you. I see a word picture of me with my hands on my knees offering my back to others, as they step on and up in this life.

And then Jesus whispers to me, “Is it okay if that’s how I want to use you in this world? I haven’t cheated you of anything. I am still giving you what I promised you.”

Am I a loser?

I admit I don’t raise my fist and proudly proclaim, “I’m a loser!” People walk on me and over me on their way to success. No, I’m not childlike enough to be that pure in heart. But I know it’s possible and I know it’s what Paul talks about in Galatians 2:20.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

I’m reminded of a song lyric from Audio Adrenaline that says, “All the losers get a crown.”

That’s me. That’s you. Rejoice!

We will get our crowns

We’re going to get crowns for being losers, for not being able to squeeze out of life what we feel we need. We’re going to get a crown for understanding grace and our need for a Savior. We’ll get a crown because we’ve learned that life isn’t fair and that we don’t live for this life.

A crown that says, “Here’s everything I promised you.”

I’ll look upon that crown with awe and unbelief and then lay it at the feet of the One Who won the race and gave more than just His back for me. He is the one that deserves the triumphant shout.

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.

Photo by Jared Subia on Unsplash

Thanks for reading! I’m Mary, I am still learning to shout triumphantly, “I’m the loser!” I love grace but don’t always receive it well or give it generously. But I’m here, sometimes showing up at sunrise and sometimes not until noon. Always grateful my boss is the generous type.

This story is published in Koinonia — stories by Christians to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family and fun.

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Mary Gallagher

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I love the slow life, contemplation, creative expression, all things literacy. Faith writer and lover of all creatures.



Stories by Christian writers to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family, friendship, and fun.