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Life Is Not Fair!
Life Is Not Fair!
"It's not fair!" "Me too!" "My turn!"
These are phrases commonly heard among brothers and sisters when one perceives that an inequality has occurred. Why? Because we live in a society where life is often assessed in terms of fairness. Many, from the time of their childhood are raised with the notion that things need to be "fair". If you have a turn, then I must also have a turn. If you have two of something and I have none, then you must share with me. If you receive something, then I also am entitled to the same. Fair and equal are not the same thing.
Recall the parable of the day laborers, (Matthew 20:1-16), that some of the workers perceived that they were not being paid fairly. With the first who came, he had agreed "for a penny a day" (v 2). Those who were hired at the third, sixth and ninth hours were told, "whatever is right I will give you" (v 4, 6). And finally, those hired at the eleventh hour were told, "whatever is right you will receive" (v 7). When it came time to settle with the laborers, from the last hired through to the first, each one received a penny for their work. And so it was, the cry "unfair" came from those who had worked from the morning till the evening. How could the landowner pay men who had worked only an hour a penny also? It was unfair! Note the landowner's words, "Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a penny? 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?" (v 13-15).
Again, consider the parable in which Jesus spoke of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Recall the younger son had squandered his portion of his father's goods. Finally, having been completely debased in the aftermath of his prodigal living, he determined to return to his father; perhaps his father would take him back as a hired servant. Upon his arrival, his father dressed him in the best robe, put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. The fatted calf was killed, and a celebration ensued, for he said, "...this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." (v 24). But then comes the older brother, and what is his cry? "Unfair!" He pled his case before his father, how he'd always been obedient, unlike his brother, and yet not once had a celebration of this sort been given in his honor. His father responded, "It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found." (v 32).
What is the attitude that causes this cry of unfairness? Is it not covetousness? Is it not the desire to have what another has, and which we perceive we also should have? Paul identifies it as a form of idolatry (Colossians 3:5), “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” The Hebrew writer cautions us, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus spoke, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." (Luke 12:15) Oh, that we would learn to focus on the important matters in life: rather than stewing over injustices in this life. I am convinced that those who are really concentrating on their service to the Lord will not concern themselves with such things.
Friends, it matters not whether we are treated fairly, whether we receive our "fair share", whether we are made equal in this or that. What will matter, when this earthly life is over is how we served our God and our fellow man. At times, things in life simply are not fair, but in eternity, God is perfectly fair. Let us then focus on God's eternal justice, not fleeting injustices.
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