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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fair Isn't Always Equal

Fair. Put one piece of cake on the table in between 2 kids and you'll get an immediate lesson in fair. (For those of you with kids, I've heard the way of making sure things are fair in this situation is to let one child cut the piece of cake and the other get first dibs on which half they want!) Kids are keenly aware of fair. But then, most adults I know are pretty aware too!

I came across this book last night. It had the title that went something like "Fair Isn't Always Equal." Maybe it stood out to me because "fair" was on my mind. Like most people, I like things to be fair. If they aren't fair, I prefer to be in the one up position. Honestly, (like most people, I think) I probably don't even think about fair unless I feel like I'm getting the short end of the stick.

When I was on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, our Regional staff meetings one year were on Racial Reconciliation. They had a variety of activities they put us through and then debriefed. One was a race with candy as the reward. We started out in one line. Then the facilitator said something like, "If you were raised in a two parent home, take one step forward. If you had a library card growing up, take a step forward. If you had a computer at all in your home, take a step forward." After several of those, we also heard, "If you spent time in a foster home, take a step back. If you have ever been refused service somewhere, take a step back." You get the picture.

While we all believed in equality, the game showed us an enormous amount of situations where things weren't fair. In the end, a couple staff were way out ahead and none of the rest of us had a chance. One staff member was actually behind the line where we had all begun. Most had the sensitivity to be embarrassed at being so far ahead. It was humbling.

I don't know anything about that book, so I cannot recommend it. But I do think it is true. Fair isn't always equal.

As I've thought about it, I've also come to realize that God is more concerned about my character than about fair. I don't know where that thought came from. Maybe God whispered it in my ear or tugged it out of some recess of my mind from long ago. Wherever it came from, I think it is an amazing thought and it sets my priorities on end. I am so much more likely to think about fair before my character.

How do I know God is more concerned about character than fair? Look at the cross. The cross is stands in stark contrast to fair. There was nothing fair about Jesus death on the cross. If Jesus was concerned about fair, I would have been nailed to the cross for my sins instead of Jesus.

There is no mercy in fair. There is no grace in fair. Rather, fair is about what is deserved or earned. Mercy is about not getting what we deserve. Grace is mercy's kindred spirit but takes it one step further and offers what we do not deserve and can never earn.

Fair is rigid. Mercy and grace are fluid and in God's love, they wrap themselves around His children.

Fair has it's merits. Merit is it's cornerstone. But stone is cold. I'll choose mercy and grace.

The challenge now learning let go of fair in relation to those around me. Sometimes I get too caught up in keeping score. Someone was late. Someone hurt me in some way. Someone didn't include me. I keep score so that it is all fair, but I forget mercy and grace.

God, help me offer mercy and grace to those around me.

While I'm praying that, it's scary. Choosing those things are hard. God used that book title to remind me. Even last night, I found the words, "That's not fair" coming quickly to mind. Mercy and grace. Mercy and grace. Pray that I remember those words before fair even creeps in.

Do you get caught up in fair?

How would your life be different if each interaction was seasoned with mercy and grace?

Thank God that He cares more about my character, about me, than He does about honoring my sense of fair.

God's Work In Progress,

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Blogger Need More Words said...

I don't think I realize how often "fair" is part of my thought processes. I'll take grace and mercy over fairness any day.

December 29, 2009 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Chelsey said...

We have a saying around our house "fair is that we all go to hell". Great post!

December 29, 2009 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Joan said...

What a powerful illustration that life isn't "fair". However, if it weren't for God's grace and mercy we would all be behind that line.


December 30, 2009 at 7:54 AM  

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It is good to hear from you... thank you so very much for leaving a note on the table. That makes us smile!

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