Is God Fair?
By Warren Mueller
When a child dies of cancer, a home is destroyed by a tornado or one neighbor is laid off while another is promoted, I sometimes hear people say, “It’s not fair.” Some people live long lives and are wealthy while others live short lives in poverty. Some are taller, more attractive, talented, stronger, etc. It doesn’t seem fair when the son of a vice president of a company is hired and promoted before others. We have all experienced things in our lives that do not seem fair. It’s true that life is not fair but does this mean God is not fair?
Before we can answer this question, it is necessary to understand what is meant by being fair. Webster’s Dictionary defines fairness as being just or adhering to a standard of righteousness or law without reference to personal inclinations. This also includes the idea of being impartial, unbiased and objective in viewing or judging people or things. The human idea of fairness includes the idea of treating everyone the same. At the core of this idea is the concept that life would be better if everyone was treated equally. This is certainly true (or should be) in the matter of laws and respect for others. However, each person’s life and experiences are unique reflecting the time and place accorded to us by God. It is futile to try to redesign society (through social programs or redistributing wealth) or people (through genetic engineering) to somehow make everyone equal. God has created us as unique individuals and this means that there will be inequities of talent, intelligence, beauty and anything else that is both desirable and undesirable.
The Bible teaches that men have a nature that is rebellious towards God (Rom 8:5-8). Thus, mankind does not seek after God and we tend to do what offends Him. The result is that mankind is judged guilty of sin and the consequences are physical and spiritual death. God shows no favoritism and there are no exceptions in his view of mankind’s sinful state (Col 3:25). Therefore, God is eminently pure and just in his judgment of all men. However, God also loves mankind and has provided one way for reconciliation through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:22-24).
From God’s perspective, mankind is sinful and worthy of judgment. Because of his great love for us, he chose a very personal and painful remedy to provide reconciliation. While we were alienated in sin, he sent his son to suffer the death penalty that mankind deserved (Rom 5:8). Thus, not only is God just but he is also loving and merciful.
What then causes people to complain about the unfairness of life and to conclude that there cannot be a God of love? It is usually painful grief at some loss or hardship that drives people to feel that they have been treated unfairly. During such times, it is natural to feel that we have been given more misfortune than others. However, it is precisely at such times that we must look to God for comfort and seek his purpose and view. God promises that all things work for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28).
Dear Lord Jesus, please help us not to have a “poor me” attitude when some misfortune happens but help me to seek your purpose in suffering. Help me to remember that I am a clay vessel being shaped by you (Rom 9:20-21).