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That’s Not Fair!

Child unhappy because life is not fair

How many times have you heard, “That’s not fair?” How many times have you said or thought that something wasn’t fair?

In my experience, the desire for fairness is not something relegated to just one age group. I’ve heard children, teenagers, young adults, middle-aged adults, and retired folks all proclaim how something in life is not fair.

I’ve said these words to public school teachers as well as Sunday School teachers. I’ve used these words with my parents and a whole host of relatives. I’ve repeated that line to a myriad of preachers.

Can you relate?

What is it about humans that insist on being treated fairly? At least when it concerns us. It likely is normal for children to struggle with fairness, but grown adults grapple with the idea of justice too.

This desire is nothing new. Jesus told a story (Matthew 20:1-16) of a landowner who went to hire laborers to work in his vineyard. The landowner went to the marketplace and told some laborers he would pay them a penny for a day’s work. Four more times throughout the day the landowner finds people to work in his vineyard assuring them, he will pay them what is right.

As the sun was setting, all the workers lined up to receive their wages. It wasn’t long before murmuring and complaining erupted. Each group noticed the workers, which had labored less than they had, received the same pay.  Some groups were complaining about others, while others were complaining about them.

Was it fair that those who only worked an hour received the same pay as those who had worked all day? Not from a human perspective. In our day, this would certainly end up in court.

But it was the landowner’s prerogative to do as he pleased. He did what he believed was right.

Jesus said (Matthew 5:41) if you were conscripted to carry a burden one mile, go ahead and take the weight two miles. Is that fair? Of course not! But it was right.

Jesus said (verse 40) if a man asks for your coat, you should give him your cloak also. Fair? No. Right? Yes.

Jesus said (verse 39) if a man slaps you on the cheek to let him hit you on the other cheek. Again, is that fair? No, but it is right.

Rather than focusing on what is fair in your life, consider striving for what is right. What is right is not always fair. Sometimes they coincide. Many times, they don’t.

It’s a good thing God doesn’t treat us fair. I’m glad He treats us right.

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