Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grace is not fair!

Life is not fair. Neither is grace!

We muse that if anyone would play by the "it's got to be fair" rule, it would be God, but that's not the case. God is as unfair as it comes when dispensing grace.

As I finish reading and reflecting on the story of Jonah, I discover my disobedient look alike didn't like the fact that God does not play fair. After the people responded rightly to God's one-sentence message delivered by a reluctant missionary, Jonah sat down on the side of a hill and watched to see if God had really shown compassion rather than wrath on the people of Nineveh, his country's archenemy.

Read Jonah 4:1-9. Note when God asks Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry?" [for God's compassion on Nineveh] Jonah answers, "Yes, I do." (v. 9)

So, where does Jonah get off on thinking it's not fair that God showed compassion on the Assyrians? Did he not remember God didn't leave him to drown in the sea or leave him to live the rest of his life in Tarshish? Did he not remember God had chosen his people to bless the entire world?

We get mad when God doesn't treat people the way we want them treated. But, thank God, God is not like us. God has a heart that can be turned by compassion and who is willy nilly (from our perspective) in his dispensing of grace.

Jesus tried to help us get it when he told the story of the workers in the vineyard who got paid the same no matter how long they worked. (Matthew 20:1-16) When challenged by the guy who worked all day and got the same pay as the guy who worked an hour or so, the owner said, "Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'" (There was no answer in the story.)

Like Jonah, I'm afraid we are mostly envious because God is generous, and we want the world to be fair--by our standards.

Think about it the next time someone you think does not deserve God's kindness and still gets it. We are more like Jonah than we are willing to admit.

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