Archive for March 7th, 2008

It’s Not Fair!

Friday, March 7th, 2008

Today’s scripture: Romans 14:1-4 (ESV-text and audio) (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Brent Walsh):

When I was in junior high school, my sister Joyce and I had a part-time job delivering a weekly newspaper. Every Wednesday morning we would drag ourselves out of bed at 4:30 am to roll newspapers until our fingers were black from the ink. Once they were rolled and fastened with rubber bands, we would walk the route together, delivering a paper to each house in our neighborhood.

The work was fun for the first two weeks, but then the novelty wore off and I struggled to get out of bed so early. I grumbled about the chill of the mornings, the ache in my legs, the ink on my hands and the monotony of the route.

When my first paycheck came, somehow my ill feelings about the job were replaced with excitement at having earned my very own money! That check represented hard work and accomplishment, and I couldn’t wait to find something at the store on which to spend my money! My father, however, had a different idea.

“I want you to learn about saving money,” he said. “When you’ve saved at least a hundred dollars, then we can talk about what you want from the store.”

“But it’s MY money! I earned it! I worked hard for it! Why can’t I spend it the way I want to?” I argued, but to no avail. The rule was set, and there was nothing I could do to convince my father otherwise.

Several years later my younger brother, David, thought of a brilliant way to earn money. He bought soda and candy bars, put them in a cooler, and took them around on his bike to all the construction sites in our neighborhood. The workers would buy his ice-cold soda and candy, providing David with a nice profit. When I asked my brother about his savings account, he said he didn’t have one.

“How did you get around Dad’s rule?” I asked, wondering at the cleverness of my sibling. “What rule?” he asked. “The rule that we have to put all our earnings into a savings account,” I answered. But my brother had never heard of such a rule.

I was confused. How could my dad have overlooked such a thing? I went to him and inquired about his forgetfulness. He told me that the rule about saving money didn’t apply to David.

“That is SO unfair!” I said, in shock. “Don’t you think that when you make a rule, it should apply to everyone?” “David doesn’t have a problem with spending money,” my father explained. “He thinks about the long-term. I don’t need to make that rule for him because he doesn’t need to learn what I was trying to teach you.”

When I look back on that and other times in which rules only applied to one or two members of the family, I feel that I can get a better grasp on understanding God. If it seems that others can “get away” with things we never can, we might jump to the conclusion that God is inconsistent and unfair.

But when we find ourselves there, let’s look a bit deeper. Maybe that person is learning different lessons than we are. Let’s not judge them according to the rules we follow. God will work in the life of each person differently, so let’s spend our time learning — rather throwing tantrums and saying “It’s not fair!”

Thought for the day: It’s not fair? Maybe not. But maybe it’s what God knows I need.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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