Fairness: a dangerous request

Posted on · Posted in Gospel, Parenting


Where would you and I be if God treated us fairly? Does God ever have a reason to be fair with me? In pride, I want to say yes. I don’t deserve unfair treatment. But such thinking is not helpful. In light of what God has given for me and how I act in return for his mercy, any demand for fairness is stupid. To demand fairness is to live like a fool, to live has if there were no God.

One of the significant areas of conflict in life is the battle that emerges from wanting to have things God’s way AND my way. One example is desiring God’s mercy while we expect, and even demand, to be treated with fairness. Desiring fairness is a black hole that leads to anger, frustration, disappointment, and struggles in relationships.

Fairness and mercy are not compatible!

I often find that children’s behavior is much like my own. We can easily spot sin in children and totally miss it in our own lives. Children demand fairness when they interact with others. But when discipline is appropriate they are quick to cry out for mercy. Sound familiar?

The truth is that my actions, my attitudes call for the wrath of God to be poured out upon me. That is the appropriate response for my sins against the holiness of God. But God, who is rich in mercy, does not treat me with fairness. He is merciful to me.

Here is a biblical definition of mercy:

Mercy is showing kindness to who are weak, sinful, and needy, because Christ loved me first when I was his enemy.

This is a description of me and of you. By nature you and I are weak, sinful and needy, not a pretty self-portrait. We are all equally in need of mercy from God and from each other. For growth and maturity to happen, you and I must stop complaining about a lack of fairness and cry out to God for mercy. It is important that mercy and not fairness is the standard by which we raise of children for God.

Psalm 103:8-12 beautifully shows the mercy of God is much better than fairness.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.