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What to Do When God is Not Fair

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Unfair. That’s how it feels. Remember that Christmas when your sister opened the gift you wanted? Or when your brother got a T-bird and you got stuck with the family Nova? Not fair.

What to Do When God is Not Fair

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Fast forward to today and ask yourself how it hits you when:

  • A coworker gets a raise but you do more work—or perhaps, his work?
  • A neighbor decorates her home from an unrestricted budget and you’re gluing the peeling wallpaper back on the wall?
  • Your job reduces your salary because of the economy, but another business gives raises and bonuses?

There’s a reason Scripture has to command us not to covet. It’s in our nature. It’s systemic. If we can’t have more than others, at least we want it equal. But less than others? Uh, no.

Because that’s not fair.

What Unfairness Does to Us

Unfair situations do more than aggravate our sense of justice. They also pierce the thin veneer of our humility and ooze from us a pride called jealousy.

Like the day laborers in Jesus’ parable—hired at the beginning of the day—we resent the privileged loafer on whom the landowner dotes (Matthew 20:1-15). Even though we get paid a full day’s wage for our work, we begrudge the fact that someone else gets the same for sitting on their duff all day. As we read Jesus’ parable, we line up in agreement with those who protest the inequitable pay.

We’ve all experienced it. We hate unfairness. It’s just so . . . well, not fair.

undeserved grace at the cross

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Perspective Helps Us Deal with What’s Not Fair

But we must recognize that from God’s perspective, we represent those hired at the end of the day—those who got something for nothing. As we stand before the Father, we receive His generosity—not His equity.

God has doted on us far, far more than we deserve. So, we see that when it comes to God’s grace in our lives, His unfairness works to our advantage.

But what about when God gives others more? Consider the question as if from God (that was Jesus’ point, by the way):

Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? —Matthew 20:15

He simply applies a different measure of grace to different people—for His sovereign purposes. But it’s grace all the same.


Tell me what you think: What unfair experiences have you had? How did you deal with it? To leave a comment, just click here.

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This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing.

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If you find yourself waiting on God—or if you don’t know what God wants you to do next—this book offers a wise and practical guide to finding hope and peace in life’s difficult pauses.

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