God's not fair and that's a good thing
Even from an early age, we know when something is unfair.
"He got 10 more minutes on the swing!"
"She got the larger half of the cookie!"
Maybe we learn not to throw tantrums, but we don’t really grow out of the desire for everything to be fair. She got the same grade with less effort? He left work early, and I have to stay? She got a raise and has worked here less time? Unfair.
You may be getting angry just reading those scenarios, and, in a sense, that response is understandable. We have an innate desire for justice. God Himself is just and has an incredible desire for justice (Psalm 50:6). The Bible says God loves justice and is known for his acts of justice (Psalm 11:7 and Psalm 9:16).
God Is Just
The Bible says in Psalm 37, “For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous” (37:17). Don’t we like to hear that sometimes? That one day all those who have denied God and His goodness by living lives full of evil will have to pay. Those who did the right thing will be vindicated and justified and those who have cheated will receive their due punishment, despite being able to gain wealth or success or power here on Earth.
Yet there’s something about the cross that reshapes our understanding of fairness and justice. The cross was an unfair exchange. If we hold to our shallow demand for fairness, then we would see that God punished the wrong man and blessed the wrong ones. Don't misunderstand — God is just. Someone had to pay for sin and evil; it should have been us.
We Depend on God's Unfairness
The Gospel is completely dependent upon this unfair exchange: all of our sin for all of God’s goodness. In His love, God sent His Son to provide us with the beauty of grace. We who have rebelled against God are justified because of the only man who was completely obedient to God. We who should be punished for our sins are not only unpunished but receive the gift of eternal life because Jesus, who never sinned, was brutally punished for us. While the cross was just, it was certainly not fair.
Likewise, the Bible continues speaking to this theme of unfairness. Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies and to bless those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Jesus even reprimanded James and John for desiring to call down fire upon those who rejected Jesus (Luke 9:54-55). Paul encourages us that it is better to be wronged than it is to vindicate ourselves (1 Corinthians 6:7). How could we do these things? How could we choose to pray for our enemies and bless those who have hurt us?
Forgiven People Forgive People
Because of the cross, we find the strength to believe that we have no room to demand fairness. We can remember that an unfair exchange saved our lives. And in response, we can extend unmerited grace to those around us. Praise God that He is not fair.