Fairness and the Bible
(This one’s gonna be quick.)
I believe that fairness as we commonly understand it isn’t a biblical concept.
Is that true? Can’t be. It doesn’t seem right. Fairness is one of those moral things, one of the qualities that makes good, good. It has to be biblical because the Bible is good.
Plus, it makes me feel good to be treated fairly. When I was younger, I never liked it when my brother gave me the smaller half of his cookie, or when he got two new toys and I only got one, or when I got in trouble for goofing off and his bad behavior slid under the radar. I didn’t like feeling that I missed out on something I wanted and couldn’t have. Especially when someone else got it and left me without. It’s a feeling everybody experiences, and as we grow older, we get used to it. We finally learn to understand a simple truth: Life isn’t fair.
But sometimes, though, we fail to grasp the concept. There’s a huge trend in society these days to promote fairness across the board. This can mean different things for different people. Lately, the country has been talking a lot about reparations, affirmative action, social programs, and other ideas that reflect the ideals of fairness primarily within the black community. It’s not fair that black people have been persecuted, oppressed, and inhumanely treated. It’s not fair that so many black kids attend failing schools in dangerous neighborhoods. It’s not fair to see so many black men locked away from their families. It’s not fair for black moms to have to rely on social welfare to provide for their kids. It’s not fair.
But I don’t think making things “fair” is the answer. I think it could actually make things worse. As usual, I tend to look at things through the lens of the Bible, and so far, I haven’t read a single word that touts fairness as a long-term solution to any problem. If anything, I only see examples that prove God isn’t as fair as we might think.
If you want, read these passages and come up with your own conclusions.
Matthew 20: 1-16
The workers who spent twelve hours working got paid the same amount as those who worked only one hour. Not fair.
They should’ve been paid more.
Jacob was a deceiver. The man lied on his brother, stole his birthright, and still received the blessing. Not fair.
Esau should’ve gotten what was promised him.
Acts 8:1-3, 9: 1-22
Paul was a literal murderer who hunted and killed Christians. He sinned greatly against the people of God. But he became one of the greatest apostles, writing most of the New Testament and acted as a catalyst for the church’s exponential growth. Not fair.
Paul should’ve been punished for what he did.
Romans 3:23, 6:23
I’ve sinned against God. But I’m still His child, covered by grace and loved by Him. Not fair.
I should’ve paid for my sins.
So, when I read this and the rest of the Bible, I get the impression that God isn’t fair in the way we normally think. He doesn’t do the tit-for-tat thing, the idea that we should get what we deserve. He goes above and beyond it. He is a God of justice through love, which equals grace. And the funny thing is, all things work together for good for those who love Him, even when they seem unfair.
Maybe we could look for ways to show grace towards everybody around us. We can give it to the people who are disadvantaged and to the people who are not. We can give it to the people serving time behind bars and to the people who live life carefree. It's not something to be rationed out according to deeds and misdeeds. It's a gift, and one that has been passed from the Originator down to us, so we can give it away unhindered.