By Daniel Darling
There is a phrase in our vocabulary that no one has to teach us to say. It’s a motto kids learn very quickly in childhood. And it’s a motto you should ban in your household 😛
“That’s not fair.”
It clangs innocent enough. Everybody requires life to be fair, right?
But this is an insidious word, uncovering a sin so bankrupt it goes back to the very beginning, back to the Drop of Man. It’s essentially what Eve was told by the serpent. “You’re get a raw deal. You’re entitled to more. God is deeming out on you.”
If you read Paul’s account of the Dropped in Romans, you’ll discover that it was this attitude — ingratitude and entitlement — that illuminated the match of sin, immersing Creation into darkness. And it’s a surefire way to experiment your own center, to ensure where the idols are.
Maybe it seems a bit melodramatic to make all of this up to my four children, ages 2, 4, 5, and 9. But I fear that if I allow them to embed entitlement in their little nerves right now, their first reaction to someone else get an extra dessert, a gift from a pal, a new pair of shoes, is “That’s not fair.”
And so we don’t allow this in our dwelling. And when it comes up, my kids know they are in for some formation of penalty, which are normally involves a long-winded soliloquy from Dad that travels something like this 😛
First, you are right in expressed the view that life isn’t fair.
Because it’s not fair that little children to bed hungry this very night, having dined nothing but a handful of rice and here you’ve exactly had seconds on french fries. It’s not fair that some boys and girls grow up without a mother and papa, orphaned by a war they didn’t start. It’s not fair that some infants won’t even visualize numerous birthdays, succumbing to illness we are dealing with with immunizations and routine trips to the doctor.
So if there is complaining about being fair, it’s you and me and all of us in prosperous, free America on the other side of “Not fair.” So in the line of people complaining about a bad lot in life, we are various zip codes away from the front.
Most of the world is pointing to the americans and saying, “Life isn’t fair” and they have a much better case.
Second, you really don’t want life to be fair.
We all have a magnitude of what is just — but the problem is that we are human and not God. He actually maintains the scale and the Bible says to us that it’s weighed down heavily in favor of His mercy.
Listen to the words of the oracle, Jeremiah, “It is of his mercies we are not consumed”( Lamentations 3:22 ).
In other messages, because of our sin against Him, it is overwhelming compassion that we are not immediate targets of His[ judgment ]. Instead, we are beneficiaries of His prayer. We really don’t want God to be fair, but to be just.
What’s unfair is Jesus’ assuming our fury and shame on the cross on our behalf so we could be restored to a right relation with God.
And on a more personal, pragmatic, earthly stage, we should ask ourselves: Do we really want God to even out the score? For us in affluent, rich America, that are able to entail taking some things away from us and presenting them to the less fortunate. Or someone more appreciative.
Third, a nerve of ingratitude and entitlement is evident of a deeper question with God.
This is what worries me most about entitlement. It is saying to God: I do not trust you to be my Father, to take care of my needs, to cherish me and care for me.
Worse, it heightens self to a god-like outlook. Ingratitude says: I know better “whats best for” me. I’m a better divinity than God.
When we say, “That’s not fair, ” we are saying to God, you haven’t distributed things as evenly as I would. Even though I’m a sinful human, I know much more about what is just and right than you. That’s a dangerous position to be in because we know from Scripture that God is the perfect Heavenly Father, and to trust ourselves to our own maintenance, our own lordship, exclusively spells cataclysm( Proverbs 14:12; Matthew 7:9 -1 1 ).
You don’t want to go through life as your own nobleman, your own god, your own lord. You simply have to look around at the agony and despair in the world to see that’s not a track worth pursuing.
After this, I then give them three things to consider about their ingratitude :
First, the medicine for ingratitude and entitlement is the gospel.
We don’t simply want our their children to “buck up, ” but we want them to be consecrated by the Spirit of God.
You see, the truth cures our entitlement syndrome by reminding us that Jesus is enough. It alters the curse of the Garden. It answers Satan’s lie about God by pointing to a bloody cross and a suffer Savior.
It says: God did afford all it is necessary to. God is your Father. Anything else you think you need is a cheap, worthless, soul-crushing substitute.
Second, the gospel nourishes in us a health sense of justice.
You see, the committee is imbalances in the nations of the world, but rather than looking inward at what we think we lack, God’s love learns us to look outward at the injustice in the world. As members of Christ’s kingdom, we now become part of His has the intention to heal and restore.
We stop looking at our own living and saying, “It’s not fair, ” and we start looking at others, who are suffering for the purposes of the weight of the Fall and we dedicate our lives to getting involved in alleviating injustice around us. When[ devoting] up our own entitlement for the sake of others, we become a small window into the Kingdom to come, where Christ will fully restore all things.
Third, repelling ingratitude early on helps us forestall unnecessary frustration and sorrow later in life.
This is not to dismiss genuine, real woe and anguish endured by so many people. However, there is much in the way of experiment and rigour that is brings with it simply by unrealistic anticipations of what God is supposed to give us in this life.
The entitlement mentality is never happy, always looking for what is mine. This is a fruitless, miserable pursuit.
But a gospel-centered gratitude that recognizes God as Father and giver of good talents helps us enjoy the approvals we already have, to revel in the grace we own rather than pleasing for things we think we are owed. In a sense, it’s the reverse boom gospel.
In summary: Don’t let your kids am telling the phrase, “It’s not fair” about their own situation. It’s the word that pays in desolation and alienation from God.
About the Author: Daniel Darling is the Vice President for Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention( ERLC ). For 5 year, Dan dished as Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbium of Chicago and is the author of various journals, including “Teen People of the Bible, ” “Crash Course, ” “iFaith, ” “Real”, and his latest, “Activist Faith”. He and his wife Angela have four children and reside in the Nashville area. Assure more from Daniel on his website .