God isn’t fair
Fairness runs deeply in the veins of every child at school. One of the most common complaints that we hear is that someone else is ‘not being fair’. This usually means that someone is not doing what I want them to do, or that the way things are unfolding are not the way that I would like them to occur. Fairness for kids is about them getting what they think they are entitled to get.
Fairness is not grounded in Christian thinking. If fairness is about giving everyone what they deserve, then God isn’t fair. What we deserve is just punishment for our wrongdoing, but in the place of fairness, God offers grace and forgiveness. In fact, He sacrificed His own life for the sake of the world. Our recent Easter break and ANZAC Day celebration both are reminders of those who gave their lives when it wasn’t deserved and we are grateful for their sacrifice.
God shows mercy whilst fairness requires judgement. Even more than that, God calls us not to respond to others in the way they deserve, but in response to the grace that has been poured upon us.
Fairness is me-centric: grace is others-centric. Fairness is about being even: grace is about giving generously. Fairness is about me getting what I believe I’m entitled to: grace is about giving more than others ever have a right to expect.
As parents, I want to encourage you to think about your use of the word fairness and instead replace it with grace. When your child expresses that a sibling is not playing fair, reframe it that the sibling perhaps, is not being kind. The challenge is then to ask how your child might respond to unkindness, not with fairness but with grace. When we do this we change the whole way in which we live out ‘mercy triumphing over judgement’.