The desire for fairness is built around the notion that human beings are equal. God’s example of impartiality towards the people he has made gives us a way of thinking about our own response to our kid’s cry of, “That’s not fair!”
Two aspects of God’s fairness should be kept in mind when we aim for impartiality. I'll outline what each of them means below.
1. Being fair means we are consistent
In Romans 2 comes the bold and clear declaration that: “God does not show favouritism”. But Paul does not write this without a context, a few verses earlier he has put the same point this way: “God will give to each person according to what he has done.” And in the verses between these two is spelt out exactly what that looks like:
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
If you were to read the section you would see how Paul is leveling the playing field. There is no way to get special treatment from the impartial God. Bribery will not sway him, power does not impress him and ethnicity gives no advanced standing. In fact the conclusion comes in the next chapter where it is clear that everyone falls short of God’s glory, and only faith in Christ Jesus can swing a different result (3.23-24).
So, as parents imitating an impartial Heavenly Father, it is wise to punish our kids for the things they do wrong, and reward them for doing right. It would be grossly unfair for one child to be punished for something, while another child gets away with it. One way we demonstrate our love to our kids is by being consistent, and not showing favouritism.
2. Being fair means we protect the vulnerable
In Proverbs 31 King Lemuel is taught by his Mum:
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
This is a role that The Lord God takes in other parts of the Bible (for example, Deuteronomy 10.17&18; Psalm 10).
The wealthy and powerful citizens will speak for themselves (or be able to afford good lawyers), but the weak and the vulnerable need extra care. In this case people are treated differently, so that they can be treated the same. This is about using our authority to protect the vulnerable person.
Parents who imitate their impartial Heavenly Father will keep an eye out for the younger sibling or the one who is lass able to argue their case. We may need to speak for the toddler who cannot put into words what it means for them to have a fair turn of the toy.
But our kids are not always totally pure in their cry for fairness. In part three we will come back to think about how to help our kids really understand fairness.
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