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First Born
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I understand that it’s not fair.

He’s been the center of our universe. He’s had uninterrupted time with us for two years. His needs have been met and his cries soothed promptly. And now it’s all different.

The new little brother has arrived.

Now, there’s a baby sucking up Mom and Dad’s time. He has to share the spotlight. Sometimes he has to wait to have his question answered or his shoes tied. Sometimes he cries like the baby to see if someone will pick him up, too.

It’s not fair. He was here first.

I too was the first born in my family. I remember numerous times growing up when I waited patiently to be given a more mature privilege only to have my little brother be allowed at the same time. It was frustrating. I felt I deserved more—I was first. My eldest son now feels the same.

Parable Difficult to Accept

The parable of the workers in the vineyard has always been the most difficult of Jesus’ stories for me to accept. Those hired first thing in the morning are promised one denarius for a day’s work. More workers are hired a few hours later, more at mid-day, more in the afternoon and still more in the late afternoon. When it comes time to be paid, the last hired are paid first. They receive one denarius. Those who had been there all day, working hard are happy because they are certain they will be paid more. But they too are given one denarius. Unsurprisingly, they complain. And the foreman replies, “Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you” (Matthew 20:13-14).

It’s hard to watch my son struggle with making room in our family for a new sibling. I know it doesn’t seem fair to him, but I’m hoping he’ll begin to understand that the love I offer him is so stretchy and flexible that there is always room for more. And I hope one day from parables like this he’ll recognize the same kind of love from his Heavenly Father.

This parable reminds us that in reality, none of us deserve anything. The sin and selfishness that rules our lives from childhood guarantees us nothing but death. But God’s love and generosity can easily encompass us all, regardless of who worked harder, who had the higher G.P.A., who was prettier or who was born first.

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By Joelle Yamada. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the New Living Translation © 1996.

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