Tag Archives: unfairness

Veil of Tears 88: Undeserving

88 undeserving scrooge-gallery

And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ “ Matthew 25:30 NIV

The parable of the talents from which our verse today is taken, is a difficult one for us. It seems to speak of a different way of doing things than seems fair. We are not used to the idea of someone being punished for having been afraid to act. And yet, perhaps the worthless servant’s real crime is to have judged his boss instead of doing his job. We are probably all guilty of that particular wrong!

But how awful to find ourselves denied the good things and rewards that others are given. This parable speaks to me of the difference between those who take what life gives them and try to do something with it, however hard a taskmaster circumstances seem to be, and those who don’t think it is their job to do very much except judge others harshly, expect payment for nothing and make excuses for having lived a life without any abundance to show for it.

If we live our lives under a curse of entitlement, doing nothing with our gifts and using nothing to bring abundance, expecting our existence to bring us rewards, then we will receive nothing in return. It is a sad state of affairs, but if we are this immature and lazy with our spiritual gifts and with the love of God given to us, then it is impossible for God to let us into the overflowing wonders of life in his kingdom, because we will not be able to use or understand them. It is for this reason, I believe, that such a person will be condemned to the outside, the Gehenna, the rubbish pit, rather than able to enter the New Jerusalem. Not that he or she is not allowed, or even necessarily judged morally wanting, but because they have stayed unable to make anything of goodness and love, and will not yet be open to its glories.

Selfishness is then, probably the worst thing we can suffer, because it leads nowhere and to nothing. If we close ourselves off and centre our being on our own wants and think nothing of others, then we will have learnt nothing at all. Reaching out, helping, loving and giving, this is where God’s kind of treasure lies. And paradoxically the more we give, the more we receive. This is not about earning our place in heaven, nor is it about being condemned for all eternity, as some might counsel. It is more about cultivating an awareness of the needs of others, in order to become mature and fulfilled ourselves. In order to become larger, better, to grow and flourish, this rooting in love is necessary. If we choose not to give, then we will find ourselves diminished and relegated to our own smallness.

We have all failed on this one, let’s not kid (pun intended!) ourselves. When Jesus separates us into sheep and goats, which is the next part of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew, who amongst us can say that we always gave when there was a need? But we are told that most of our good deeds are unknown even to ourselves! I wonder then if the worthless servant and the goats are the parts of ourselves that need to be acknowledged and purged. Middle Eastern sheep and goats look very similar, when you think about it, so this is no easy task. Just as Jesus says the wheat and the tares must grow up together so that the good in the harvest remains unharmed, perhaps the same is true of the differences that exist even within each individual. These motives and ways of being are what the Lord needs to separate, to put aside, to deal with, in the crucibles of testing as with dear old Ebenezer Scrooge (above), so that the parts of us that cannot see heaven will die off, and the parts of ourselves that are capable of seeing and hearing, can then walk forward with our God, in this life and then in the next. Perhaps, in the end, this is about what needs to be left behind and understood as of no worth, before we can progress further into the Lord’s heart.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is tended receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless, and its curse is imminent. In the end it will be burned.” Hebrews 6:7 NIV

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo used under creative commons license

Veil of Tears 84: Unfairness

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“..that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:45 NIV

It’s not fair! We shout out more often than as adults would care to admit, albeit often silently and to ourselves. But a lot of our prayers, whilst they may be couched in other language, are about telling God how he isn’t treating us fairly. Lord, I really really want to be able to afford a holiday, we say whilst behind gritted teeth we are thinking, why can so and so have a holiday and not me, I’m just as good a person as them, why do they get all the good stuff. Am I doing something wrong? It’s so unfair.

And of course, we do the same with more serious problems too. I do it myself. I wonder why other people have been healed from M.E. and I haven’t yet. I wonder why other people have found a job after redundancy, and my husband hasn’t yet. I wonder why a family member has been diagnosed with an illness I can do nothing about, and everything in me screams, IT’S NOT FAIR!! But fairness is not a kingdom concept. We only have to look at the parable of the vineyard workers to see that God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. God promises to be just, he does not promise to treat us all the same. And there are reasons for that, and the main one is that we aren’t all the same.

I read a book about counselling once, and the writer told an anecdote about a home for boys who had been expelled from (usually more than one) public school (my friends across the pond, read private school). These were kids used to privilege but often lacking in emotional support. The writer witnessed what seemed two strangely different encounters of boys with the very wise founder of the institution. One boy came to him distraught because his piano was not performing adequately, pleading for a new one. The request was granted. Then another boy came in asking for a new football because he’d lost the old one. The request was denied. When the boys had gone, the writer said something along the lines of, but that’s unfair, the cost of a football is so small, and you’ve said yes to ordering the other child a Steinway!

But the first boy was a musical prodigy whose whole life and future was centred around playing the piano, he practised diligently and he was genuinely distressed that his instrument was not pitch perfect, unlike his hearing. The headmaster recognised his request as a genuine need. The second boy had kicked about ten footballs over into the neighbour’s garden already, and was only asking for a replacement to get attention so he could do it again. No, said the master, the boy must learn that this is not acceptable behaviour.

When it comes to prayer requests, God deals with us likewise as individuals. Even when our request seems reasonable and for our own good, the timing of the answer must be entrusted to the one who knows us best. I believe God wants me well. But I have to trust that he wants to journey me to wellness in his timing and his way, and that this is also best for me. I want healing now, but I will never accuse God of withholding anything good from me, it is not his nature. Nor will I lay on myself the burden of the lies of unworthiness. It is simply that God know me best and he knows better. And I will trust him, and I will wait, and I will try my best to silence the voices that tell me it’s not fair, because I know my Lord is just and he is kind, and that in this temporal realm, we all have to deal with the weather, come rain or shine.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay