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Dead Goats, Flipping Burgers, and Equal Pay

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Dead Goats, Flipping Burgers, and Equal Pay

A popular Russian fable tells the story of two poor peasants, Boris and Ivan.  Boris owned a goat.  Ivan did not have a goat and seethed with jealousy.  One day, Ivan came across a genie in a bottle who offered to grant him one wish.   Anything that Ivan wanted was available to him in that one wish.  And instead of wishing for his own goat, or anything for that matter, Ivan wished for Boris’ goat to die.


This Russian parable speaks to the unchecked sinful nature of covetousness.  Rather than desire better for himself, Ivan in his jealousy and rage, desired only for Boris to suffer as he felt he had suffered.  In doing so, both men were left in a worse position than when they had started.  Now, nobody had a goat and both were equally miserable.

So also is true in the minimum wage MCDONALD’S WORKERS that were demanding $15/hr. 

“McDonald’s profits keep growing while their workers struggle. People who work full time should never have to rely on food stamps to feed themselves and their families,” the Fight For $15 movement, which announced the start of protests in Chicago Tuesday, said in a statement posted on its website. “It’s wrong  for a company whose stock just hit an all-time high to pay wages so low that its workers have to rely on public assistance to scrape by. McDonald’s profits in the first quarter rose 35% — it’s time for the company to share its good fortune with its workers,” says the union backed group pushing for the wage increase.

She's Not Lovin' ItJust as Ivan, enraged with jealousy of what he didn’t have (a goat) the McDonald’s employees, enraged with jealousy with what they didn’t have (higher wages), were in the process of killing their goat and everyone else’s in the process.  A former McDonald’s executive explains

“It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries — it’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe,” former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi said Tuesday during an interview with FOX Business. “It’s not just going to be in the fast food business. Franchising is the best business model in the United States. It’s dependent on people that have low job skills that have to grow. Well if you can’t get people a reasonable wage, you’re going to get machines to do the work. It’s just common sense.”

Now nobody has a goat (job) and all are equally miserable.

The gender pay gap controversy is another example.   The current political environment is exacerbating an innate sense of covetousness in women by suggesting they are being treated unfairly in the workplace by being paid less.  Although mostly UNTRUE, this sense of unfairness is producing all kinds of anger and bitterness based on the idea of “me not getting mine.”  This movement too, will suffer NEGATIVE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES and the world will, once again, be left with a lot of dead goats.

Jesus answered all this years ago in the parable of the hiring landowner in MATTHEW 20:1-16. Although Jesus uses this parable to describe how the kingdom of heaven works, he also uses it to illustrate the divisive power of covetousness.  He compares the sovereignty of God to the sovereignty of a business owner.  “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?” denotes the venerability of personal property.  God as a sovereign king can do what He wills with His kingdom and all that is in it.  Likewise, man created in God’s image, can do what he wills with his small kingdom, whether it be the land they own or the McDonald’s franchise they oversee.  

The vineyard’s workers desire for equality usurped God’s sacred law of personal property (Exodus 21 & 22:1-15 & Exodus 20: 13-17).  Now, the workers were demanding the landowner do according to their desires as opposed to his own. Jesus had something to say about just this:  “Friend, I am doing you no wrong.  Did you not agree with me for a denarius?  Take what is yours and go your way.  I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.  Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?  Or is your eye evil because I am good?” 

The bible is filled with the negative effects of covetousness on humanity.  What appears to begin as a desire for fairness and equality always leads to lawlessness, a loss of liberty, and separation from God.   It happened with Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-15).   Because of Eve, it happened to both Adam and Eve( Genesis 3:1-6 & 22-24.)   It happened to Cain (Genesis 4:2-16).

The problem lies in finding identity through circumstances rather than through God.  In God, things are not unfair.  He is just.  He is righteous.  He is sovereign.  He is merciful and He loves us unconditionally.  If we but trust Him, He will grant us justice.  He will lift us out of our malaise and oppression (Psalm 3)  Even when our conditions are less than optimal, we can trust that He has our best interest in heart and that He will come through on our behalf ( Romans 8:28.)   If we remain humble and faithful during our time of slight, He promises to exalt us in due season (Luke 14:11).  

When we allow the enemy to influence our thinking, we begin to see the world as he does.  We see a world of unfairness, inequality, and hopelessness.   We begin to desire the blessings of others and become ravenous in our pursuits to obtain them; even through political or violent means.  Here in lies the problem:  worldly solutions to the problems of inequality always advocate for the incremental dissolution of personal property rights.   And, as Jesus noted in Matthew 20, this is evil:  “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?  Or is your eye evil because I am good?”.

God is a good father and He freely gives good things to His children (Matt 7:11-12). The enemy will always use man’s sinful nature to achieve his goals in the earth. 

 Yes, inequality and unfairness do exist; but the answers to them are found in no manmade law or policy. Implementing egalitarian policies under the guise of fairness do little to solve the problems of society.  It does however produce a lot of dead goats.  It hardens men’s hearts and turns them against each other.  As Christians, we have the remedy.  The answer to every societal woe is found exclusively in Him.  Turn away from covetousness and turn to God.  He knows.  He cares.  He hears.  He sees.  The alternative methods, the methods we see being used by government and society today, are subversive, ineffective, and the ultimate ploy of the enemy.  The world doesn’t need more dead goats.  It needs true mercy and justice found only in Jesus Christ.

R. U.