An intriguing post appeared in the Harvard Business Review, “Whom To Pay Is More Important Than How Much or How,” that mentions some of the themes explored on this blog. The first attention grabber is the section on motivation:

“It is important to understand the basics of motivation. The stronger source of motivation is internal and not external, though external incentives can help as long as they are applied to the right people and properly aligned with internal motivators. However, external motivators are tricky.”

Religion is frequently focused on external motivation, usually in the form of demand or passive-aggressive suggestions or exhortation or practical and pragmatic advice. But these rarely have much staying power. However, motivation from within—triggered by constantly hearing about God’s one way love because of Jesus and by being transformed by the Holy Spirit—seems to bear some fruit and give life. This is what scripture teaches. Romans 2:4 says “God’s kindness leads to repentance” and Philippians 2:13 says “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to God’s good purpose.”

The second noteworthy point is on “fair” compensation:

“Compensation should be reasonable because it is part of human nature to expect fair treatment when it comes to compensation, which should be somehow proportional to our efforts and/or results. This sense of a fair deal seems to be genetically anchored. Even primates respond with aggression or anger when they feel unfairly treated. This has been revealed by some fascinating research with capuchin monkeys. In their experiments the primatologists created a market in which monkeys were trained to give them a pebble in exchange for food. While 95% of the monkeys participated in that market initially, when relative rewards became unfair only 20% of the monkeys continued to trade… and some got so frustrated they simply tossed away their pebbles!”

This reminded me of the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matt 20:1-16). The five sets of laborers arrived to work at 6am, 9am, 12noon, 3pm, and 5pm (nearly quitting time). They were all paid at 6pm and all received the same pay—one denarius—which is what everyone agreed to. It is not surprising that those arriving earlier and doing more work would envy those who did less, yet receive the same pay. I would have been furious if I worked all day and got paid the same as the slackers. But, I’m a slacker (or “chief of sinners” as Paul put it in 1 Timothy 1:15), and thankfully I get treated like a 5pm worker.

When we are tempted to complain that grace isn’t fair we’ve forgotten the Good News that we are not saved because of our merit or worthiness, but because of His mercy and grace.