As a teacher and as a parent I have heard many times the cry of the disappointed child, “Hey! That’s not fair!”. It seems that deeply embedded in kids, even from a young age, is the awareness of and desire for fairness.
Though on recent observation, I have noted that the cry of ‘unfair’ tends to be used by the child who feels they are missing out. This made me wonder about the stain of sinful selfishness that ruins an otherwise godly desire (more about that in a future article). But I also got to thinking about the source of our desire for fairness.
The desire for fairness comes from a very powerful place
Firstly, I thought it would be good to see how this intuitive desire for fairness comes from a very powerful place. To do that I want to take you back in time to the days of King Jehoshaphat, who ruled over the Kingdom of Judah (c. 873-849). One of his key accomplishments was the appointment of judges, to hear disputes and resolve disagreements.
In his charge to these judges, Jehoshaphat commands them: “
Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man but for the LORD, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery. (read the whole account in 2 Chronicles 19.4-10)
The basis for fairness and impartiality amongst the judges was their representation of God’s own fairness. There are plenty of other places in the Bible where God’s own fairness and impartiality are on display, and often it is to motivate his people to reflect his character (some examples are Deuteronomy 1.17 and 10.17-18; Malachi 2.9; and Colossians 4.1).
The parent who judges fairly
I guess my point here has to do with how parenting sometimes involves the kind of judgments that involve issues of fairness. There are times when you might feel like you are hearing evidence from your kids and making a judgment (there can also be times when you feel like a UN Peace-keeping force trying to maintain a cease-fire, but that’s a whole other discussion).
Knowing that our fairness is a reflection of God’s fairness hopefully causes us to listen carefully when our kids play the ‘Not Fair!’ card. Even though there might be a stain of self-interest in the claim, it would be a mistake to dismiss it for that reason alone.
The parent who judges fairly will consider carefully what decision they make, knowing they are not judging for their kids but for the LORD. But what exactly does that mean? What do we learn from God’s impartiality that will help us make good decisions? These questions will get answered in my next article!
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