Lately, it seems the political and cultural landscape often wants to have a discussion on the issue of fairness. Too many people have the idea that all should be “fair.” As a pastor, I see this played out in parent and child roles quite often. The parent thinks they are teaching their child a good thing when they teach “fairness.” They seem to think that this is a biblical idea.
What are we teaching a child, when we teach them that life is all about fairness. Although, we should always seek to treat others fairly, is it not true that the idea of fairness is rather subjective? What is fair to one person, may not seem fair to another. When a child screams, “That’s not fair,” what is he saying? He is saying that he was mistreated by someone else. In other words, his idea of fairness is a self-centered idea. Thus, when we teach children that life is to be fair, we are teaching them to be self-centered and selfish.
Does the idea of “fairness” come from the biblical text? Of course, there is the proverbial “Golden Rule” found in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” However, this verse is not about being “fair.” Taken in its context, it is the portion of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus is addressing how He answers prayer. He compares His graciousness and goodness toward us, with our graciousness and goodness toward others (Matt. 7:7-11). Then, verse 12 begins with the word, “Therefore,” which means “based upon what has just been said.” The conclusion of verse 12 is a statement that we treat others in the way we want to be treated by them.
One is hard-pressed to find a biblical stance on the issue of “fairness” in the Scriptures. In fact, it can be found otherwise. For instance, was it “fair” that God rejected hard-working and manly Esau, and accepted the soft, sissy Jacob? Was it “fair” that all of Achan’s household was stoned to death with him for his actions? Was it fair that thirty-six innocent soldier’s lost their lives, due to Achan’s sin? Was it “fair” that over a million people were condemned to wandering in the wilderness for forty years, because of the disbelief of ten men who brought back an evil report? Was it “fair” that God sent Abraham’s descendants into Egyptian bondage for four-hundred years when, as yet, they had not done anything wicked (Gen. 15:14; cf. Acts 7:6)? There are scores of other biblical examples that could be used to demonstrate that God is not interested in what mankind calls “fair.”
However, the Scriptures are abundant with references on life being holy, righteous, just and godly. It is God’s concern that we live holy and righteous lives. It is about individual responsibility toward Christ. If we are living that kind of life, then our actions toward others will also be with the right motivation. Fairness will not be the concern, but what is godly will be.
How does this play out in our society? The warped idea of fairness has spawned an abundance of ungodly legislation in our country. The basic idea is…”It’s not fair if homosexual couples cannot marry as the heterosexual couple can.” However, society should not feel any compulsion to adhere to their definition of “fairness.” Rather, we should follow the biblical admonition of finding such a lifestyle to be an “abomination” (Lev. 18:22). Our laws should reflect righteousness. Of course, someone will then say, “It’s not fair to enforce your biblical viewpoint on others.” Again, the issue of fairness is raised, because someone has felt slighted or mistreated (i.e., it is self-centered). Yet, it has been historically proven that societies cannot infinitely survive when they have been destitute of the righteous standard.
Another issue of ill-perceived fairness in our country is the economy. Our leaders seem determined to embrace socialism. This is based on the idea that it is not “fair” that one person should have more than another. It is not fair for whom? Oh, I see, again it is a self-centered philosophy. Righteousness and justice would mandate that people who choose not to seize the opportunities afforded them, would have to learn to live without as much. Of course, someone is now saying, “But it is not fair if they do not have the opportunity, and that is why we need these laws.” Please note that legislation cannot create opportunities. Opportunities come to those who give themselves to learning and work. The more you know and work, the more the opportunities arise. This is what is known as cause and effect!.
So, let’s just be righteous and godly, and then our lives will be fair before God.
Do you have thoughts on whether life should be “fair” or not?