Ego likes to keep score. It is a careful watcher of rewards, measuring what we get vs. what everyone else gets. Am I getting what I deserve? Ego has its currencies-money, awards, likes, praise, friends-to measure fairness. God does not use the same currency. There is no bank in the City of God that gives us what we deserve. God runs the universe on generosity. When I preached on the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) last lectionary cycle, I called it the “Gratitude Economy:”
Are you envious because I am generous?” says the vineyard owner. “Of course I am.” Why? Because everyone did not get what they deserve. That is the unspoken belief underlying our sense of justice. Justice is getting what you deserve. You work hard and it pays off. If you are slacker, there are consequences. But what do you deserve? How would you know, who decides? Would you really want to get what you deserve in all circumstances, even when you really blew it? It sounds great to get what you deserve, until I am the one who made a bad choice, said the wrong thing, feel short. Then I want a break. How fair do I really want life to be?
God doesn’t give us what we deserve, but what we need, often when we don’t deserve it. The Old Testament text on finding Manna in the desert fits this message too. There was enough for the day, enough for each one’s need, not for each one’s greed.
The text challenges me to think about where I feel entitled, where I feel envious, why am I spending more time counting and comparing, than cultivating gratitude and generosity?
Clink on this link to read the full sermon “The Gratitude Economy.”