And the vessel that he made of the clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?’ says the Lord. (Jeremiah 18:1–6—NKJV)

The inequities of life that do not enforce equal outcomes produce the most painful experiences of childhood. My children used to echo my own childhood when they would say, “That’s not fair!” Real “fairness” did not matter, or the authority of parental judgment, nor did it matter what anyone else thought or felt, what mattered was the individual’s perception and emotion of equity.

I used to tell my children that there were three things they needed to remember about fairness: first, life is not always “fair;” second, they did not know what “fairness” is; and third, my job was to teach them what was fair. As you can imagine, they did not like it that way, but thankfully I was bigger than they were!

The difficulty of striving for a state of fairness in this world is that it’s difficult to rise above the emotions and feelings of childhood when it comes to assessing equalitarian issues. English and American law has sought to codify issues of equality, but there are always going to be those who inject their own feelings into the mix and never conclude with complete satisfaction that there is such as thing as real justice in this world and the next.

Biblically speaking, issues of equality never look at the awards ceremonies at the end of the race of life but rather the track upon which the race of life is run, the requirements of the athletes, and the rules of running the race. Equality is more a matter of starting point, not the finish line. It is this fact that led the founding fathers of this country to authorize the Declaration of Independence which takes it cues from Scripture as it declares that men are equally endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, listing three: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property). There are unlisted ones which may be easily deduced based upon their heavy leaning upon the doctrine that man is created in the image of God—freedom of movement, right to self-defense, freedom of speech, etc. The idea of equality of outcome was never a possibility, but equal treatment under the law certainly was. The law must, of necessity, be dispassionate in this regard, just as the passage in Jeremiah identifies.

The real or perceived slights of the law, economics, and people (parents, spouses, bosses, co-workers) all come vested with restless emotional baggage. Remember: Life is not fair, that we do not really know what fair is, and that God declares what fair is! As with everything having to do with mankind, God’s perspective will always temper emotions and elevate thoughts.

The first principle is that God declares all men equal in comparison to all men, but not in comparison with Himself. Proverbs 22:2, Galatians 3:28, and Romans 10:12 teach that there is no such distinction as bond or free, Jew or Gentile, rich or poor in the eyes of God. We are alike finite, yet He alone is infinite. God declares what is fair.

The second principle is that He has made mankind equal in the dignity of personhood yet unequal in performance, product and place. We are alike created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27, James 3:9) and are equally granted the fact that we are body and spirit (Proverbs 20:27, Ecclesiastes 12:7, James 2:26) but we are not equally granted eternal life. Most of mankind will follow the broad way to Hell without ever being born from above, while some will enter in at the straight gate—Jesus Christ is the only way into the presence of the heavenly Father (John 14:6). We do not naturally know what fair is!

The third principle is that mankind is equally concluded in unbelief because of the fall of Adam (Romans 5:12) and yet Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10). Life is not fair. How unbelievably marvelous is it that God treated His own Son unfairly in our behalf, since He died as the Just for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, that we might gain heaven, peace, reward, eternity, joy, justice, grace, and the status of being declared sons of God (John 1:12, 3:16, 1 Corinthians 6:20, 1 Peter 1:18–19, and Revelation 1:5)! There is no “equalizing” with God, but there is equanimity and equity without equivocation. Let us live equitably with all men, yet be thankful that God does not treat us “fairly” as we deserve. Yield to God’s providence in thanksgiving. Trust and obey.