It's Not Fair

Frontline Devotion for September 24, 2020 (Season of 'Time After Pentecost')

By: Pastor Fritz Foltz

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Ezekiel 18:25-29

Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is unfair.' Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is unfair.' O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?

"It's not fair! It's not fair!" Anyone who has raised children hears that cry a lot. The child is usually complaining about a punishment she does not serve. She is claiming she did not do anything or that she is being disciplined for something some else did. At the moment the parent is being blamed for not being just.

As we grow older, we might not do it with a scream, but we voice the same complaint. We feel it is not fair that we are not rewarded for what we do. We think we work hard and someone else gets the credit. We think innocent people are punished and guilty people get off free. We think some people die too young or old people are neglected.

Over and over we look at what happens and lament "It is not fair! Life is not fair!" Sometimes, well many times, we really mean "God is not fair". If something cannot be explained, it must be God's fault.

Ezekiel like all the other prophets say there is a lot going on when we make this complaint. First, they assume the world as we know it today is unfair. The wicked often do get away exploiting others.

However, they warn us to be careful about pointing our fingers at others. We often play our part in the injustices of this world. Actions have consequences. If we do evil, we eventually pay for it, one way or another. Sometimes the prophets speak of God punishing us; sometimes they claim God's law is built into the way the world ultimately works.

But in today's passage Ezekiel is speaking about people who think they can get away with doing bad, because they are God's chosen people. God would be unfair to expect them to do good in this evil world. They will begin living a righteous life when everyone else does.

Ezekiel reminds us that we are called to be God's witnesses right now. We are his agents by showing others how to live according to God's will. We are to treat all people with dignity, care for the needy, protest peacefully, and stand up for righteousness. And he warns as Jesus does that God has every right to throw away salt that has lost its taste.

Let us pray: Grant us the courage and integrity to be your witnesses in this evil world, Holy Father. Forgive us when we fail and give us the commitment to get up and try again. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.