Thursday, August 22, 2013

God is Not Fair

I recently came to the realization that I serve an unfair God.

For years I have prided myself on being “fair.” Make sure the cake pieces are cut and distributed evenly. Make sure someone (especially myself) is not falsely accused. Don’t make a prejudiced statement for which you don’t have clear evidence. In my book, be fair and you will be fairly treated.

One of my biggest struggles in Uganda is figuring out how to be fair. If I do something for this person, then I have to do it for everyone involved. So, rather than “shorting” someone, somewhere, I avoid many hard decisions and am very cautious in what I give and to whom. 

Sometimes I feel stingy, but then I remind myself I am only trying to be “fair.”

Then as I read The Romance of Grace, I realized God doesn’t treat any of us “fairly.”

I, like the author, struggled with the Matthew 20:1-16 parable, in which the vineyard owner pays the same wages for all of his workers – those who started early and those recruited at the end of the day, although they didn’t work the same number of hours.

The “early” workers believed this was unfair. They should have received more money, although the salary was agreed on from the beginning.

In terms of salvation, God gives His incredible gift very freely – to those who have been “good” and who come early, and those who have been as far from Him as possible and came “late.” The truth is, though, we all deserve death and, in all fairness, eternal separation from our Creator God.  

Only because of His abundant grace and longsuffering love does He gives any of us a second chance and generously rescues us from the wretched grip of death and sin, resurrecting us to new life through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:1-10). He is not fair in this. How could a just God do it? 

Because He chose to mete out the terrible judgment upon His own Son, so we could know grace to its fullest degree.

“We are truly all unworthy servants, and indeed we receive gifts that transcend and even ignore what we might have earned.  The truth is that fairness has meaning only under the judgment of a standard, and such standards were blasted away by the power of the resurrection.  In our service and life as believers, fairness simply is not the dynamic at all; fairness – petty and squirming and horrid – has been nailed to the tree and killed publicly.  Our lust for fairness is squarely of the flesh.” (From The Romance of Grace, by Jim McNeely III - emphasis mine)

Realizing that fairness is of the law and the flesh has given me a  much greater appreciation for the “unfairness” of my God, who daily bestows undeserved grace on you and me.  I have also found a new freedom in being freely gracious to others.  

I want to leave legalistic “fairness” behind.  I want to continue to embrace grace and be a free and flowing channel of God’s blessings.  

Leave the tap of grace open and let it flow freely, unhindered unto others. That is what God has lovingly done for you and I.

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  1. When I worry about whether I should be "overly" gracious or to refrain from giving something that won't be "properly" valued by the recipient, I try to remember what Pastor Hal Glover once said in a sermon: "I would rather err on the side of generosity than close my heart and become some sort of spiritual tightwad." Aren't we glad that God is not a tightwad, and that He was "unfair" to His own Son in order to be generous with us? You are right... we should remember this more and seek to be more like Him. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Jennifer, thank you so much for your comment and good insight. Yes, I believe it is better to err on the side of being "over-generous" than to be a "spiritual tightwad." If God is our Source, we don't have to worry about "running out" when we are generous with what He has given us. :)