God’s Not Fair (and What We Should Do About It)
Have you found yourself telling your kids or students “Life’s not fair?” Boy do we all know that’s true! But did you ever realize that God’s not fair?
He’s not. And that’s a very good thing.
We all struggle with this concept of fairness – both in our own lives and in the lives of our students and children. But I don’t think many of us have taken much time to get to the depths of what God has to say about fairness. I know I sure didn’t until a devotion got me thinking.
Is God really not fair? Let’s take a look:
- God is not a respecter of persons. Before we look at how God is not fair, we need to clear one thing up. Throughout Scripture we are told that God does not respect persons. Race, background, wealth, and social status mean absolutely nothing to God (Acts 10:34, Col. 3:25). He will save all who call upon Him and judge all who deny Him. When we stand before God, it will not matter if we were famous, wealthy, or powerful on earth. God does not care about those things. We are all of equal value in His sight.
But just because God values us the same doesn’t mean He always treat us us the same.
- God does not punish us as we deserve. The second we are tempted to wish that God were more fair, we must remember that if He truly was fair, we would all be in hell right now. That’s fair. That’s what we deserve. But while God is just, He is also incredibly merciful and gracious. He does not give us what we deserve but instead extends us mercy over and over again. When we fail in our Christian walk, He does not rain down judgment on us but lovingly corrects and forgives. (This is sure something to keep in mind when we are correcting our students and children – but we’ll talk more about that next week.)
- God gives us more blessings that we deserve. We are incredibly blessed, and we do not deserve His blessings. As we already discussed, we deserve judgment and condemnation. We don’t deserve anything good. But God gives us His blessings anyhow. While it’s easy to focus on all the things that are wrong in our lives, when we stop to think about God’s goodness we realize how truly blessed we are.
So far so good. We’re all glad that God is not fair, that His mercies are everlasting and that His blessings are overflowing. But here’s the issue we struggle with:
God does not pour out His blessings equally. And when we see someone else get a blessing that we don’t, we don’t always like it.
In Matthew 20, Jesus tells the parable of the workers. A landowner went out in the morning to hire laborers and agreed to pay them a day’s wages. He went out again at noon and around 3:00 to get more workers and told them he would give them a fair wage. He did this again around 5:00. When it came time to pay them, the workers who had been hired at 5:00 and only worked one hour received a full day’s wages. Well the workers who had been there all day started to get excited, thinking they were going to receive extra money. But instead each worker received a day’s wages. When the men who had worked all day got upset, the landowner said that he had done them no wrong. He had given them what they were promised, and it was his business if he gave the other workers more than they had earned.
If you’re like me, your natural response is to not like this one bit. It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s frustrating.
But we’re missing the point.
If the workers had worked all day, received their wage, and not known he paid the others the same, would they have been happy? Yes. They would’ve been content with the blessing of a day’s work and a day’s pay. The problem is that they found out someone else received a bigger blessing than them.
Wait a second. Let’s let that sink in.
When we get upset that someone else got something we didn’t, what we’re really saying is “I wish God hadn’t blessed them.”
We may be saying “I wish I had that, too,” but normally it’s not the fact that we don’t have it that set us off. It’s the fact that someone else does. Someone else got the promotion, bought a new car, or is going to Hawaii. Someone else is prettier, more popular, or more athletic. Someone else just got engaged. Someone else has kids who are perfect angels. Someone else…
And we’re still missing the point.
The point is that God does not treat us all the same. He works in each of our lives to make us more like Him, and He knows each of us better than we even know ourselves. He knows what we need, and it might be different than what someone else needs. He doesn’t use a “one size fits all” approach but instead molds each of us with personalized care for His glory and for our good.
He gives each of us incredible blessings, and they are all different. We may not have the same blessings as someone else, but we have blessings that others do not have. It only takes five minutes of watching the news to realize how good we have it.
Would we really begrudge someone else a blessing just because we didn’t get it too?
No, we should be incredibly thankful that God is not fair. Because if He were, we would have to return all the blessings He’s given us.
When we stop and really think about it, it becomes so clear. That’s why thinking Biblically is so important. When our attitude starts to go awry, we need to reorient ourselves with His truth.
And it’s not just enough to grasp these truths for ourselves. We need to do better than telling the next generation that “life’s not fair.” We need to teach them God’s truths. We need to teach them to rejoice in the blessings of others and to be thankful for God’s blessings.
Wondering what this means for your classroom or home? We examine the application in this post: If God’s Not Fair, Should We Be?
Have you found yourself frustrated when someone else got something you felt you deserved? How did you respond? What do you tell your kids or your students when life doesn’t seem fair? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.