This isn’t fair! The words have escaped my lips and thoughts more times than I wish to admit. Whether it’s been my ongoing struggle with health, our miscarriage, dealing with disloyal friends, or stubbornly refusing to let go of sin, I’ve clung to those three, self-focused words. Instead of gracefully taking on these hurdles in faith, they have been my excuse and reason to wallow in my own self-pity.
Most often, I find myself uttering that nasty little phrase – This isn’t fair! – in a bullet-of-a-prayer. It usually comes in chorus with something like this: God, why would you let this happen to me? Haven’t I been through enough?
Yikes! Big words for such a small human. Haven’t I been through enough? That phrase sounds more whiny than reverent. Instead of acknowledging that God knows best, I’ve fallen back on the inconvenience of my own discomfort. And somehow, I’ve gotten it in my head that I deserve more than what I’ve been handed.
When I utter the words “It’s not fair!” I’m really not arguing for justice. Instead, it’s my way of innocently shouting, “I’m entitled to this.” Let me tell you, entitlement is an unattractive quality and a dangerous game to play. It puts our wants first and subconsciously prioritizes our preferences over God’s end game. Those three words blind us to the true definition of fair. You know, the one we want to ignore.
Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard… (Romans 3:23 NCV)
Ouch. Romans is pretty clear. We have all sinned. Not just our husbands, as we sometimes allow ourselves to believe. You and I have sinned. So, what does that mean and how on earth does it translate to what we deserve?
It is your evil that has separated you from your God. Your sins cause him to turn away from you, so he does not hear you. (Isaiah 59:2 NCV)
Maybe we aren’t that bad! Evil. Isn’t that a little bit of a strong word? Actually, it’s not. Our actions are either good or evil. Giving generously to people in need simply because they are less fortunate? That’s good. Doing the same thing with the motive of receiving a gift for participation? Not so much. We don’t have to murder or rob widows to commit evil acts that offend God. The whitest of white lies is enough to put a divider between us.
So, we find ourselves in a predicament. Unable to commune with God Almighty because of our sin, we are left with an alternate destiny.
The payment for sin is death… (Romans 6:23 NCV)
Fair, in every essence of the word, destines us for this: death. I’m not going to sugar coat it because none of us can change that reality on our own. Our sin strips us of every opportunity for a better outcome. It’s because we sinned that we are cast out of glory. The only option? Eternal death.
That’s what we deserve. We don’t deserve promotions, raises, victories, and success. We don’t even deserve the luxury of a good husband and great kids. Our humanity failed us and fairness demands that we pay the price for what we’ve done.
I can scream and shout, “This isn’t fair!” all I want, but it doesn’t change the reality of what lies ahead of me. Despite my best efforts to make fairness suit my needs, I can’t alter what is and what is to be.
But thankfully, that’s not the end of the story. Thankfully, there’s more to this than I’m letting on to. “Fair” may declare that we deserve the punishment, but someone else has taken it in our place.
Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so we would stop living for sin and start living for what is right. And you are healed because of his wounds. (1 Peter 2:24 NCV)
In the name of “fair,” we cast aside the most foundational elements of our faith. We forget just how far this “unfair God” has gone on our behalf and what “fair” really looks like in our situation.
We deserve rags. He offers us riches.
We deserve exile. He welcomes us in.
We deserve a punishment. He bore it in our place.
We deserve judgment. He shows us mercy and grace.
Thanks to Jesus Christ, “fair” has been thrown out the window. His sacrifice eliminated our punishment. In its place, he has invited us to join in the prize. But we aren’t obligated to accept it. He’s not forcing us to welcome this gift. We can stay living in oblivion, believing that we deserve so much more. Or we can take what he’s offering us. The choice is our’s, but it’s up to each of us to decide that for ourselves.
“This isn’t fair!” One phrase I’m retiring from my vocabulary. Despite my desire for a different outcome, I have recognized what I truly deserve. My fate was signed, sealed, and just waiting to be delivered. Christ stepped in, overturned the verdict of “fair,” and handed me a new ending to my story. He died in my place. This most certainly isn’t fair, but I’m taking the gift anyway.