As I write this blog, I'm recovering from quadruple bypass surgery. This was an unexpected event that came out of left field. I always considered myself to be a healthy 64 year old who works out regularly and eats a pretty healthy diabetic diet.
So when the cardiac doctor told me I had 90% blockage in two of my arteries and 100% in another and needed bypass surgery, I could have easily complained about how unfair God was. The doctor said it was probably hereditary. That made it seem even more unfair.
But obviously life is not the same or equal for everyone. Some have more problems than others. We all probably know the guy who has a dark cloud that seems to follow him around, always in some kind of trouble. And then there is the jerk who seems to have made it in the shade! And yet in the past few years fairness has risen to the top of our society's values and I'm not sure where that originated. We want everything to be fair and equal. So we are constantly comparing our lives to others and there is this movement to somehow control all things, to level out everything. Many believe it is the government's role in society to make everything equal for everyone (except those in power).
And this idea that life should or could be equal on all fronts even slips into our theology. We believe that the God who created the world and governs should be fair to one and all as well. I heard a popular pastor recently preach about how God will balance all of your books in the end. He said that God is a fair God and if you have a lot of trials, sickness and disappointments in life, God will return blessings to you that are equal to your trials. I'm not sure where this pastor got this theology but it doesn't come from the Bible.
The reality is that the God of the Bible is not fair. And praise God that he is not! Because if God were fair, I would be in hell, on my way to an eternity without God. We all would be because that is what every person deserves on earth. Because God's standard is perfection and one sin or anything short of perfection cuts us off from God. None of us are perfect. So if God were fair, we would warrant a sentence of eternity without God (Romans 5:8).
Fair is not a word I use to describe God. God is anything but fair. He chooses one particular race over all others to show his favor. He chooses the less qualified to be his leaders. Check out Noah, Moses, Saul, David, and Esther. None of these were the most qualified or popular choice to be a leader. In the New Testament, Jesus shares the parable of the hired workers in Matthew 20. The manager hires day laborers and agrees to pay a certain amount for a day's work. At the end of the day, when it is time to pay, the manager pays the same amount to those who worked 12 hours as to those who were hired late in the day and only worked an hour. "This is not fair", declared the workers who had toiled all day. The manager responds by saying he is not being unfair, but he is being generous.
The same principle applies in the parable of the prodigal son. On the son's return home he receives a party in spite of his horrendous and irresponsible behavior, squandering his inheritance. In Luke 12:28 we see the elder brother, the responsible child, throwing a fit, claiming it is unfair to reward his brother and not him.
So fairness is not a high value in God's kingdom. Mercy, love and generosity are the values that describe God. He loves us so much that he provides a way for us to be in a relationship with Him regardless of our past or how good we've been. There is no way to earn it.
Therefore, I don't expect life to be fair or for all my trials to balance out in good things for me. I am not jealous of those who have it "better" than me. I am very thankful that God loves me and is merciful to me and that I can spend eternity with him! Jesus didn't come to earth and die so that I might have a "fair" life. No, he came so that we all might have life to the fullest! (John 10:10). That is love that goes way beyond fairness.