“Do not expect to be treated fairly in this life.” This is how one of my devotions began today. When I hear the phrase “That’s not fair,” I immediately picture an elementary school playground and a teacher who drew the short stick with playground duty. My mom was an elementary school teacher. I can remember her saying, “I’ll be late today cause I have duty.” I got the impression it wasn’t a coveted job. In this picture I see lots of children pulling on a teacher’s shirt saying all at once, “It’s not fair, what about them? It’s not fair!”
We even see this sort of thinking in the Bible. Toward the end of John’s gospel, Jesus was talking to Peter about how he would, ultimately, suffer and lay his life down as a martyr. Peter turned around and saw John eating some breakfast and minding his own business. He protested, saying, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:21-22)
Peter probably thought, “Lord, I don’t mind if following you results in my suffering for you. But can’t you at least make sure everybody else suffers a little bit too? Because if I’m the only one suffering here … well, that’s not fair!” Here’s the truth … Jesus never told us that this life was going to be fair. We need to leave that mentality back on the playground.
I think if we were all honest, at some point, in our lives we have likely made the same statement … “That’s not fair! What about them?” As followers of Christ, we have given our rights over to Him. No one was ever treated as unfairly as Jesus! He was constantly misunderstood, mocked, betrayed, beaten and then killed. Should we expect to be treated any differently? Jesus told us, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). But he also told us, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and celebrate, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
The only opinion that should matter to us is the opinion of God Himself. We have been clothed in His righteousness and holiness, purchased by the blood of Christ. “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).
It is by grace we have been saved through faith … grace, undeserved but freely given by the God who spoke the universe into existence. We are to love as Christ loved, forgive as Christ forgave, and to remain faithful to the end. The time is coming when Jesus will judge all men and no one can stand before him and say “But it’s not fair!” One day Jesus will come and set the record straight and that is the only thing that will matter.
“At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).