It’s not fair! Have you ever looked around at the lives of others and thought just that? Have you been treated unfairly in the workplace or in the family? Maybe you’ve even been tempted to think God hasn’t been fair with you. What should we remember when we’re tempted with thoughts of “It’s not fair!” How did one of the psalmists pray when he felt like life wasn’t going his way?
Exodus 9 & 10
It’s Not Fair!
Unfair Labor Practices?
In “The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard,” a businessman hires workers at various times throughout the day. At the end of the day, he pays the same wage to those who were hired just before quitting time as to those who worked all day. Some of the others said, in effect, “It’s not fair!”
Have you ever felt like those laborers who were hired early in the morning? Perhaps, on the job or, possibly, in your spiritual life?
Maybe you were raised in church. Or maybe you were the “good” son or daughter, the one who didn’t rebel against your parents or your Christian upbringing. Or maybe you’ve been a believer for a long time, faithfully serving Him and there are things you’ve prayed about that haven’t happened.
Maybe you got a diagnosis you didn’t want or your spouse walked out on you? Then you see some new believer all excited because God has done something great for her!
Or maybe you’ve had a hard time accepting the fact that your “n’er-do-well” brother-in-law got saved after years of drug use and wild living and now everyone acts like he’s the golden boy! It hardly seems fair.
We can be so like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15.11-32). He was mad because his father forgave his wild younger brother and even threw a party when he came home (more about that when we get there).
But, if we’re honest, we might look back and admit that though we may not have “run off” into riotous living like the prodigal, there have been many times when our hearts were far from God, times we harbored bitterness and unforgiveness, times when we were selfish, manipulative, unkind and unloving. Instead of being upset over God’s grace in the lives of others, we need to get down on our knees and thank Him for His grace in ours.
And no matter what … even when it doesn’t seem fair to us, we can trust in the goodness of our sovereign God. A great book to help you understand His goodness and sovereignty in the midst of difficulty is the book It’s Not Fair! by Wayne Mack. You can read more about it below.
Today’s Other Readings:
Exodus 9 & 10:
On Dogs & Sows
God is about to deliver His people from Israel, but so far Pharaoh has refused to let his cheap labor force leave Egypt.
Over and over he agrees to allow them to go, only to harden his heart when the “crisis” of each plague is over and the “pain” is not so intense (see yesterday’s post, “Sleeping with Frogs”). Don’t we often do the same?
Proverbs 26.11 says, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”
When he quoted this proverb in the New Testament, Peter added, “… a sow, having washed, returns to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Pet. 2.22). Neither is a pretty picture.
In Exodus 10.7 Pharaoh’s advisers ask him, “… Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?” How pride blinds! How hard it is for us to see the destruction that our stubborn willful sin causes.
As this part of the story unfolds we see God’s final judicial hardening in response to Pharaoh’s continued sin. And in Romans 1.28-32 at the bottom of the “downward spiral” we see another example of God’s judicial hardening and it’s result:
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Sounds like a picture of our world today. Let’s pray for God’s grace to guard our own hearts and let it drive us to pray for our families, our cities, and a world that is perishing apart from Christ!
Like the Apple of Your Eye
Look at the imagery in this psalm.
8 Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,
9 From the wicked who oppress me,
From my deadly enemies who surround me.
10 They have closed up their fat hearts;
With their mouths they speak proudly.
11 They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth,
12 As a lion is eager to tear his prey,
And like a young lion lurking in secret places.
13 Arise, O Lord,
Confront him, cast him down;
Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword,
14 With Your hand from men, O Lord,
From men of the world who have their portion in this life,
And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure.
They are satisfied with children,
And leave the rest of their possession for their babes.
15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
“Keep me as the apple [pupil] of Your eye…” The psalmist asks God to protect him in the same way we protect our eyes.
And talking about his enemies, he says They are like lions crouching down and waiting to attack, accuse, and find fault. “They have closed up their fat hearts,” “With their mouths they speak proudly,” “They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth, as a lion is eager to tear his prey … like a young lion lurking in secret places.”
In verse 13 the psalmist says, in effect, “You take care of them, Lord.” And in verse 15 he reminds himself that he has God and will one day see Him face-to-face. He declares that he will be satisfied knowing that hardships cause us to become more like Christ.
When people act like our enemies, we need to keep an eternal perspective, as well, to choose to be satisfied in Him, and trust in our Heavenly Father to work on our behalf.
Lord, I pray that You would keep me and my family as the pupil of Your eye. Hide us under the shadow of Your wings. Sometimes I feel like the enemy has surrounded us, but I’ll trust you to confront him on our behalf and deliver us. Help us, Lord, to be satisfied in You, knowing that we will on day see Your face and help us to remember that these trials are causing us to become more and more like Jesus. In His name I pray. Amen.
Caught in the Cords of His Own Sin
Is it awesome to anyone but me, how these selections so often fit together? Here in our Proverbs reading we see the end of the wicked:
“His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin. He shall die for lack of instruction and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray” (vv. 22-23).
His own iniquities entrap him! He is caught in the cords of his sin! God doesn’t have to “bring calamity” on sin. The consequences are already built in. Just as a person who drives too fast in a turn will roll the car because of God’s laws of physics, so a person who ignores God’s spiritual laws will suffer the consequences of his actions.
In the end, we must, as Paul said in Romans 12.19-21, leave judgment in God’s hands. Jesus said we shouldn’t hate those who set themselves up as our enemies. Instead, we should ask God to give us compassion for them and pray for them:
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven … (Matt. 5.44-45).
When are you most tempted to think, “It’s not fair!”?
What are your thoughts on today’s readings? Did God confirm some truth, remind you of a promise, even step on your toes a bit?
In the coming days, we’ll talk about idols of the heart, how journaling can help us in our relationships with God and others, how whining affects our lives, about dealing with difficult people and strong-willed children.
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“It’s Not Fair!” can help us know Him better and learn to rest in His omniscience, omnipotence, love, and justice.