Below is a copy of the sermon I preached on Sunday, February 28, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia and Two Ridges Presbyterian Church, Wintersville, Ohio. You can also find a podcast of this sermon on The Cove Podbean page. . You can also find a podcast of this sermon on The Cove Podbean page.
If you find this sermon meaningful, please consider supporting this ministry by sending an offering to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God Isn’t Fair
“That isn’t fair.” Now, let me ask you, how many of y’all have heard those or similar words in the last forty-eight hours? Now the reason I ask is that I think you can call this a genuine parenthood question, something that separates those who have children, I’d say, between the ages of four and eighteen, a little younger if they’re gifted and a little older if they’re still living at home, from those who don’t.
And like I said, I think it can be used to determine active parenthood, because aunts and uncles, and certainly grandmothers and grandfathers are amazingly fair, at least in the eyes of the kids, mainly because either they’ve decided not to engage in the fairness fight or, as a passive-aggressive attempt at revenge, they figure the best way to get back at brother or sister, son or daughter is to indulge nieces and nephews, grandsons and granddaughters. But for moms and dads, “that’s not fair,” is just one of those delightful phrases that seem to run on some kind of never-ending loop.
Of course, the exact words may be slightly different, you know, like using the second person, singular or plural, “You aren’t fair,” identifying a quality within the antagonist. Or they may be employing the verb in either it’s present or past continuous form: “You weren’t being fair” or “You aren’t being fair,” inferring a pattern of behavior rather than an isolated incident. But regardless of the grammatical form the sentence takes, the meaning is the same, the parent has violated that standard of fairness that provides a basis for our society. And if that’s not clear by the words themselves, the stomping and the pouting and sometimes the crying makes the message crystal clear.
And second, it needs to be deserved. In other words, the results must be based on what you do. For example, your grade on the science project should be based on your work and not because your dad is an artist or your mom is really good with computers. And you getting the job should be based on your expertise and your experience and your interview and not on who you know, or is that whom you know. No, that would be unfair. We should get what we pay for. We should enjoy the fruits of our labor. We should recognize that there’s no such thing as a free lunch; that would be unfair. And that’s certainly not the way we want to see the world around us. But of course, I think we all know that wanting something doesn’t make it so.
As a matter of fact, I think that there’s one source of, well, frankly unfairness over which we have absolutely no control at all. Therefore, we really don’t have any choice but to accept one plain and simple truth. You see, we may need to live with the fact that God isn’t fair. Let me say it again; God isn’t fair. Now I know that might make you feel a little bit uncomfortable, but I’m telling he just plain isn’t; and I say that for two reasons we’ve already talked about.
And second, the reason he did it isn’t fair either. I mean, remember how we said that to be truly fair, you have to be impartial. Well, I’m telling you, God regards us as his children. Man, he loves us. And with love, there’s partiality, isn’t there? And again, we see that reflected in this passage. You see, God wants to show mercy, and that’s why Isaiah wrote, “...let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” And it’s as thought he knew that this kind of compassion and mercy and grace would be confusing to his people, and that’s why, speaking for God, Isaiah wrote, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”You see, although they continued to get themselves into trouble and paid the consequences for their stumbles, God loved his people. He always did and always would.