(Jesus said) "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied to Jesus, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." Luke 10:36-37
At many high school and even college graduations last month, there was a famous list about practical life rules that "you didn't learn in school." It's often attributed to Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, but the rules weren't written by him. They were actually written by California educator, Charles Sykes. Do you remember his number-one rule about life -- one you didn't get in school, but really needed to learn to live? Are you ready?
The number-one rule is life is not fair, so get used to it.
Ironically, Sykes learned that lesson personally when everyone from Ann Landers to Paul Harvey wrongly attributed his list to Bill Gates. He lamented, "I don't get upset because, hey, life isn't fair, so I'm used to it."
He also pointed out that the average teenager uses the phrase "It's not fair" 8.6 times a day. The kids got it from their baby-boomer parents who were the most idealistic generation ever. It's not fair that some people are taller or faster or some can eat gallons of Häagen Dazs without gaining a pound. It's not fair that some high school dropout, coke-snorting Hollywood actor makes more money on one bad movie than all the high school teachers of a school combined. It's not fair when bad things happen to me, but not to others. You know the list, right?
Fairness. We all seem to worry about fairness.
In fact, I think we live in a world more concerned about fairness among sinners rather than justice and mercy before a Holy God. We can so easily be concerned with temporal fairness, even as we discard God's mercy and leave behind His righteousness.
As wise as Sykes number-one rule sounds, it's not the whole story. In fact, in reality, it misses the whole point. Here's the one truth about real life: the Bible proclaims it clearly -- that Jesus Christ came into this unfair world not with a utopian message or a grin-and-bear-it perspective, He came to bring grace, mercy and peace to people who don't deserve it, people who can't earn it, people who can't survive without it.
In fact, because of Jesus, God the Father doesn't treat you fairly at all; He treats you with undeserved kindness and mercy -- mercy that you can be sure of no matter what is going on at the moment! Life isn't fair, but you can face it with the assurance of God's grace and mercy.
Like the Good Samaritan in the text who treated the beaten and left-for-dead young man with mercy:
* God doesn't treat you fairly according to your predicament, even if you have caused it;
* God doesn't treat you fairly according to His blessings as if He merely gives you what you deserve;
* and even when others do treat you unfairly, God promises to be with you and never let this world overcome you, and that's not fair either.
So face your life today with a gusto born of faith, knowing that Jesus is more than a good neighbor, He is your eternal, good Savior, and your life matters to Him. Be bold with His gracious mercy and truth in this unfair world. Know this one thing in life: there's real mercy in this unfair world, and that makes all the difference for those who put their faith in Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for being my resource of mercy and grace in an unfairness world. Give me strength to trust You in all things and live graciously to others in Your Name. Amen!
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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