by Linda Veath Cox

It was hard to keep the little kid in me suppressed as I gazed at the beautifully decorated Victorian home. I felt as if I’d stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting. The hostess was gracious; the atmosphere festive; the food superb. What a way to celebrate Christmas.

Yet, I have to admit I felt a sense of “guilt” at being included in this luncheon. I was the “new kid in the Bible study,” having attended just three or four weeks before the invitation to the luncheon at a member’s home. Many of these ladies had been in the Bible study for YEARS. I’d been attending about a month. Yet I was welcomed at the luncheon like a life-long member. Same hugs. Same hospitality. Same food.

Jesus’ parable about the workers in the vineyard came to mind and how I now viewed it differently—through the eyes of the “worker” who was hired last but received the same pay as those hired first.

God, the generous and gracious host, gives abundantly to His children more than any of us ever deserve. Daily blessings, of course. But even more so, forgiveness and eternal life. Whether we’ve lived our lives for Him for years, or whether we’ve only just “found” Him, He loves us and welcomes us.

But I wonder—are we that welcoming to others?

How do we respond when we’ve been working at some task at the church for hours, yet someone who just helped at the end gets the same recognition and thanks as we do?

Do we feel a twinge of jealousy that someone’s deathbed confession entitles them to all the love and forgiveness God has to offer while we’ve been serving Him for years?

Do we grumble about unfair treatment? Or do we rejoice at God’s generosity, knowing that ALL those who receive His grace and forgiveness—yes that includes us—are blessed beyond anything we could ever hope to receive, earn, or desire?

Let’s admit it, we do tend to cry “unfair” to these things, whether it’s the workers in the vineyard, the “deathbed conversion” of the criminal on the cross, a co-worker’s recognition, or a luncheon invitation. And they do seem unfair.

But bottom line, it’s not about fairness. It’s about grace. GOD’S GRACE. Plain and simple.