“That’s not fair!” How often did you say that as a kid? There is something innate in all of us that longs for fairness. But what is fairness?

Treating everyone in the same way seems to be a good, simple definition and works well in childhood. But when you start raising your own kids it gets more complicated. A couple of years ago we bought Emily an iPod Nano for her birthday. A few months later we bought Lewis a Nintendo DSi for his birthday. Emily complained that it didn’t seem fair for Lewis to have a DSi and her to not have one, so I offered to take back her iPod and give her a DSi instead. That offer helped her see that fairness is about equality, not necessarily sameness. She decided to keep the iPod.

Something similar happens in the spiritual tension between law and grace. The law says that fairness means treating everyone in the same way. Anyone who speeds gets a ticket. It doesn’t matter why you were speeding or how much you were speeding, the law says that even one mile per hour over the speed limit, for any reason, is an infraction for which you should be ticketed. But grace is not a policeman enforcing a law. Grace is a Father raising children and the definition of Fatherly fairness is not “treating everyone the same.” The definition of Fatherly fairness is “treating everyone in the way that will best help them grow up in Christ to be who they were created to be.”

By the grace of Jesus Christ the Father does not treat us with fairness as defined by the law. He treats us each with the individual love, discipline, and care that we each need to grow as we should. That is more than fair. That is grace – and it is love.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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