No Fair!

  1. Message: Romans 9 is a really difficult chapter. Paul was grieving for the Jews because they had rejected God. It seemed so wrong to him because they were the physical ancestors of Jacob and they carried the promise of the Messiah. The Messiah had been born out of their own blood line and yet they rejected him and missed out on the most important part of the promise. Paul even went as far to say that he almost wished he could trade places with them because that was how strongly he grieved for them. He went on to question our ability to judge what is truly just and fair. Abraham had two sons but only one of them carried the promise. The one who carried the promise had twin sons and God chose the younger brother over the older before they were even born. This again seemed unfair, but generations later the ones who carried the promise were missing out because they rejected the Messiah, while the unchosen ones (the gentiles) were the ones enjoying the promise because they received it. This was no surprise to God because he knew this is what would happen. Paul quoted old testament scripture where God said “I am putting a stone in Zion to stumble over and a rock to trip over, yet the one who believes on him will not be put to shame.” Jesus was that rock that tripped the Jews and provided a foundation for the gentiles. Paul reminded them (and us) that we are in no position to judge what is fair because only God is perfect and he has the freedom to bless whomever he chooses. He doesn’t owe any of us anything. What appeared to be a disadvantage to the underdog proved to be an advantage in the long run. What appeared to be a privilege and a leg up also proved to be the disadvantage in the long run.
  2. Command: Don’t try to judge what is fair or right. We don’t have the mind or the understanding of God.
  3. Promise: God is fair and just.
  4. Warning:
  5. Application: As I read this I thought of so many situations where it seemed like someone had an unfair advantage, but because it was given to them without any kind of proven or earned character it was taken for granted and wasted. Someone else who seemed to be at the disadvantage found an opportunity and worked hard because they had no expectation that anything should ever be handed to them. We’ve often heard the term “silver spooner” describing someone who was born into wealth and handed unearned wealth/and or opportunities provided by wealth. While there are a lot of wealthy people who have taught their children to work hard and develop character, we also see many who were handed wealth they did not build and it ruined their lives. We also have seen many who appeared to grow up at a disadvantage, but they developed character and/or tenacity because of their disadvantage and became successful because of it. I’m not trying to compare salvation to wealth, but since money is measurable it was an easy comparison. Some people are born with physical disabilities and they accomplish things that most able-bodied people are too lazy to even try. We all believe that having supportive parents gives kids the confidence to succeed, but I have known kids who grew up in challenging situations that were far from supportive but they developed character and a tenacity that gave them a different edge of experience because they allowed their circumstances to motivate them instead of becoming a victim. Each of these scenarios has the potential to go in either direction and in some families you literally see kids who grew up in the same home take completely opposite directions in life. This is true of all kinds of other success/failure stories. I don’t want to make this political, but we live in a country that is trying to push in the direction of socialism because the perception is that if everyone has the same opportunities it makes things fair. I’m definitely not about oppressing anyone but as we have evaluated in just these few scenarios, there is no way for any human to determine what an equal opportunity looks like. We don’t have the mind of God to recognize all of the contributing factors. We all have different advantages and disadvantages and we could never possibly create an equal playing ground. Only God understands how these checks and balances work for and against us and his judgment is perfect. This challenges me to evaluate some of the things in my life that I have perceived as unfair or as a disadvantage. This also really challenges me to pay attention to the things that I have that should be working as an advantage for me, but I have taken for granted. Opportunities I have wasted because I didn’t recognize them for what they were.

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