“I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you  . . . are you envious because I am generous?” –Matthew 20:14-15

As a kid, I was not just skinny–I was painfully skinny.  And woefully un-athletic. (If only I could have been like Trixie Belden, the spunky, mystery-solving girl in the books I had my nose stuck in!)

So, it’s no surprise that not only was I the last to be chosen for teams for playground games–usually there was a chorus of groans from the team that “won” my services.

There was no worse playground game than Red Rover.  A human chain of third-graders gripping each other’s hands.  The chant, “Red rover, Red rover, send (name) right over.” The chosen child ran as fast as they could, trying to break through the chain.  If they broke the chain, they got to pick someone to go over to their side.  If they didn’t, they were “captured”, and had to stay on our side.

I knew that not only was my name going to be the first chosen (because there was no way I could break through a human chain), I was in for a beating because every aimed for me when they ran–I truly was the weakest link.

But one day my friend Lori Lou picked me to be on her team, ignoring the groans of the stronger members.  She said, “You come stand by me,” and locked my wrist in a death grip.  She knew standing by me made her a target, but she was willing to pay the price to help me.  I didn’t do anything do deserve being on a team, but Lori Lou valued friendship more than my abilities.

In Jesus’s parable from Matthew 20:1-16, workers in the vineyard grumble because the owner opts to pay everyone the same, despite their contributions.  While some of the workers grumble and groan about the fairness of his decision, the owner retorts, “You are envious because I am generous?”

God values our friendship more than our abilities. Was it fair that Jesus took the beating for our sins?  If he is that generous to us, do we have the right to question his generosity to others–or to judge who God deems worthy?

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