January 31, 2012
Life isn’t fair. You aren’t being fair. I just want what’s fair. That is such a double standard. If you have lived with a teenager, you’ve definitely heard these battle cries. If we haven’t yelled these ourselves, we have at least thought these statements at various times, right?
There are two primary perspectives regarding fairness. First, on a human level, we are often out for “number one.” One mindset says, “Don’t get mad, get even.” But this approach never really leads to peace or contentment. In fact, the outcome is that we become covetous, cynical, bitter, and even hostile. The second perspective is the divine level. God misses absolutely nothing (1 Peter 3: 12). He is completely aware of what we think, say, and do before it ever takes place. “But,” we ask, “what about all the evil in the world?” Interestingly, God doesn’t operate in time as we do, but we can be assured that justice will be served (Rom. 8:28).
1 Peter 3:13 tells us that honest people usually don’t suffer harm. For example, we pay our debts, and usually we don’t suffer financial trouble. If we lead a healthy lifestyle we usually live longer, and even better. This verse shows us that when we seek to do good, no one can effectively harm us. Basically, you live the right way and the odds are in your favor.
There are times when we do suffer and life is not fair even though our conduct is good and our decisions are right. The very next verse (14) promises that we can consider ourselves “blessed” if we suffer for righteous reasons. Obviously, we can experience unpleasant consequences when we make decisions that violate God’s principles. But the Phillips translation of James 1:2 gives us comfort: “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your life, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends!”
Today, several insightful techniques can help us as we deal with suffering and life’s unfairness. First, we are called to patiently endure unfairness, so that we can know we are fulfilling God’s plan for us. Second, one day we’ll be rewarded for enduring these undeserved trials (James 1:12). Third, don’t panic and don’t worry (1 Peter 3:14). Fear comes from the Greek word “phobos” which means being seized with terror and running to take flight. But God wants to give us calmness in our spirit. Fourth, acknowledge Christ as Lord over this event. In the book of Acts Stephen forgives his attackers, giving us an example of not reflecting back hatred and bitterness. Fifth, be ready to give a good witness (v. 15). We must know what we believe, and be able to be reasonable, intelligent, and gentle in giving our defense. And, sixth, keep a good conscience (v. 16). Integrity will silence and shame your slanderers. Job’s example shows that unjust suffering is always better than deserved punishment. These are all decision-making skills you can learn, practice, and excel in. Your decision, so choose well.
Father God, thank You that You are full of compassion and are fully in control of all that You created. When we are allowed to suffer, let us not feel agitated and worried, but count it all joy, knowing that endurance will result in a crown of life. When we are slandered, let us not be crushed by others’ opinions, but help us live in such a way that no one would believe it! Help us to remember who we are and Whose we are. We ask this in the soothing name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
“When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to live at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7
“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” James 5:11