Summary: We spend WAY too much energy trying to balance the books of our relationships. Jesus did not teach us to be fair, but to be good. His birth beautifully illustrates the lesson.
Php 2:5-11 – ...Christ Jesus: ...being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NIV)
We have a saying in our house than came about in the following way:
Madison, our 5 year old, has an overblown sense of justice. Every child expects a certain amount of fairness, but she notices imbalance everywhere. It wouldn’t be so bad if all she did was notice, but she feels it necessary to restore order or see order is restored. Her lack of power as a 5 year old never ceases to frustrate her.
Now, our dinner room table sits six and there are only four in our family. For logistical reasons, our 3 year old sits on the end of the table. She is sandwiched by my wife and I (yes, it takes us both). Madison sits on the other side of me. We have only recently moved into our present home and so the traditions are still being established. So, it came to pass one evening that I was the last to approach the table. Madison insisted that I sit not between her and Milana but rather on the other side of her. Her justification for this request was that it wasn’t fair that Milana got to sit by both parents while she only sat by one. And since it was physically impossible for both children to be near both parents, it was only right that each child only sit near one parent.
We tried to reason with her that while her suggestion had a sense of balance, her idea of fairness in no way improved her situation. She didn’t care. Fair was fair. At this point, it would have been in my best interest to accommodate her. Her reaction to unfairness would far outweigh my three year old’s reaction to loss. However, this scenario was a perfect opportunity to teach her one of our personal Christian values: “it’s better to be good than fair.” So I sat in my usual spot. It took a while to restore order.
There is something within us that demands justice. We want things to be fair. This is more the case when we find OURSELVES on the losing side of the imbalanced equation. We don’t complain when we are eating turkey for Christmas while others starve to death. But when we are the ones being left out, misrepresented, or slighted...well, it’s another story.
Here’s the thing: justice is part of the character of God. Justice is moral and right. Our sense of justice is supposed to push us to do all we can to prevent abuse and neglect. If anything, we need a stronger sense of justice. But when we demand fairness, it isn’t usually in defence of moral truth. Instead, it is usually a childish cry for more, for mine, for me.