“FAIR OR NOT FAIR”                                               By Pastor YAU

Deuteronomy 32:1-4                                                     January 28, 2007



1)     Words of a coach: When I was coaching a high school freshman girls’ basketball team in the fall of 2005, I was surprised at how many times I heard, “That’s not fair!” The girls’ motivation seemed to depend on whether or not they thought what I asked them to do was fair. If I asked some girls to do a defensive drill while others shot free throws, I heard, “Not fair.” If I allowed one group to play offense longer than another group, I heard, “Not fair.” I like to add one more sentence to her story: No matter what I do, I will always hear someone says, “That’s not fair.”

2)     This world is not fair: Today, January 3, 2007, Mike Tyson, a big name boxing star, was released one day after he was arrested by Phoenix police on charges of possession of 3 bags of cocaine, DUI and others. A judge in Phoenix released him without posting a bond. In a news interview, the AZ Sheriff could not give a reason why Tyson was released as nothing has happened. Last month, an unemployed man from China was arrested and kept in jail here in Shelby County for over a month because he was unable to post a bond of $30,000 for selling counterfeit hand bags. I am sure we all have stories of things we see as unfair. We all may have our own unfair stories to tell.



1)   We don’t know all the facts: To make a fair judgment on people or things, we need to know the facts and reasons behind what we see. Most of the times when we make an “unfair” judgment, especially when it is a rushed one, we are “not fair” to make that judgment without knowing most, if not all, the facts. Just look at my story above on Tyson and the unemployed Chinese man. Superficially it is not a fair treatment to both guys. But I don’t know all the facts the judges in Phoenix and Shelby County knew when they made those decisions. Making a judgment without facts is never fair. But we do that all the time. Right?

2)   We are bias by prejudice: When I saw the news on Tyson being released without posting a bond, I was upset because of my predetermined prejudice against him. My knowledge about him, all third or fourth hand from news, is all bad. There is a “pre-determined” judgment in me even before I saw this news of his release. With all that bad impression about him plus the charges against him by the police, I was sure he must be “guilty” and did not deserve to be released without posting a million-dollar bond. In fact, I wish the judge will keep him in jail without giving him a choice of posting a bond. If we examine honestly the process we make judgment on fair or unfair, most of times, if not all the times, we are unfair because we are already bias by our pre-determined impression.

3)   We are self-interest oriented: Looking at the story of the basketball coach, almost all the “unfair” complaints made by some girls were made because of their selfish interest. It is much more fun to have free throws than to practice defensive drill. Every basketball player loves to play offence rather than defense. It is human nature to put oneself in a better position, enjoy better privilege and in control of things. So we will complain it is “not fair” when that privilege is given to others. Judgments made because of selfish interest is never fair.

4)   We don’t know the world enough: If we know the world better, we won’t complain, at least not as much, that things we see and people we know are not fair because there is no such thing as “fair”. One thing is not fair in your eyes is so fair in another’s eyes. There are many people who do not hold your beliefs or do not see or value things the way you see or value. With the corrupted nature of man, we will be on better ground if we stop complaining “not fair.” This world is never a fair place to live. No one is a fair person to begin with. Fighting for fairness is fighting a losing battle.


UNFAIR STORIES IN THE BIBLE: Too many to count. Here are a few:

1)   Starting from Jacob: Among the three Patriarchs in the history of Israel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Jacob was the least qualified, in fact according to many he should never be qualified. Just look at what he did to his own brother, his father, his uncle and cousins, to his wives and children he was one of the most dishonest person we can find in the Bible. But he was honored to be the founder of the nation of Israel, the father of the 12 tribes and the apple in God’s eyes. (Malachi 1:2-3; Romans 9:13)

2)   Then let’s look at Moses: Why should Moses shoulder the huge burden to lead the rebellious, stiffen-neck and ungrateful people of Israel out of Egypt into the Promise Land? Look at how painful he was in the face of this people that he asked God to take his life to release him from his ruin. (Numbers 11:14-15) With all the good comments as the most faithful in the house of the Lord, (Numbers 12:7) Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, (Deut. 32:52) and was buried in an unmark grave no one knows where even today. (Deut. 34:6)

3)   How about Jesus? Why would God allow such a perfect man, His own son, to suffer and die the most terrible way to save the world? If God is all powerful and all wise, why can’t He device salvation in a more humane way? What did Jesus do to deserve all the rejection, ridicule, mocking, beating, spitting, breeding and the horrific death he had to go through? Why did the righteous Jesus have to die to save the unrighteous men of the world? (1 Peter 3:18)

4)   Finally Paul: No one in the 2,000 years of Christian history is more faithful, more loyal, more dedicated, more successful, more honest, more humble, more self disciplined and more self giving than Paul the Apostle. But God allowed him to suffer so much, (2 Corinth. 11:23-27) to worry for the church so much, (11:28-29) abandoned by friends, (2 Timothy 4:16-17) went through poverty and needs so much, (Ephesians 4:12-13) suffered physical ailment so much, (2 Corinth. 12:7-8) and died quietly in the Roman prison as nobody. There wasn’t a funeral, no fanfare, no celebration of “Home Going” like many faithful and big names Christians had such as Martin Luther King and Adrian Rogers.



1)    The declaration: After telling the new generation all the great things God had done for their forefathers and the commands God had given them, Moses gave this new generation, (the old had passed, all died in the wilderness,) encouragement to obey God’s commands and the blessings God will bestow on them if they do. He composed his words in a poetic form that this God is a fair God: “He (God) is the Rock, his words are perfect, and all His ways are Just (fair), a faithful God who does no wrong, He is upright and just (fair). (32:4) If you want to trust an honest man, you certainly can trust Moses: he said God is just and fair. He will never do wrong to anyone under any circumstance.

2)    The better way: Often times, we see things we consider not fair but in fact they are. The difference is our ways of looking at things are not good enough, at least not good enough when compares with that of God’s. Prophet Isaiah tried to tell the people of Israel God’s way of doing things when he said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. Declared the Lord.” (Is. 55:8) If we truly believe the wisdom of God and His miraculous ways of doing things, we won’t jump to conclusion so easily that things we see are not fair. Many times, His ways are not our ways.

3)    We will know someday: The Apostle Paul portrayed our limited ability in seeing things in 1 Corinth. 13:12, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully.” Fair or not, oftentimes is hard to make an immediate assessment. We need time to mature, to see the whole picture, to understand things we can’t understand at the moment. It is wise not to jump into conclusion when you see only part of the picture. Someday in the future you will see better, know more and make a more appropriate judgment fair or not.

4)    We are in good hands: An insurance company uses this phrase to advertise their business but the real good hands are the hands of God. God will never allow bad or unfair things happen to His children. He will always make sure we have the best treatment in our life. Jesus reassured his disciples on this when he said, “Though you are evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?” (Matt. 7:11) If you have a strong faith in God’s goodness, you won’t feel unfair in things and times you consider bad or unfair. God always has your best interest in His heart and He is able to make all things fair and good.



1)    Be patient: We live in this world where there is little, if any, such thing as fair. There are many reasons that things happen we see as unfair. At the same time, there is little, if any, we can do about the unfair situation. So, the best way to live our life is not to focus on things we see as unfair but things we see as fair. Life is never meant to happen the way we always want it to. Be patient and live longer and happier.

2)    Trust God: No one, including those whom we consider unfair, is bigger than God. Let God handle them in His way and at His time. God may be slow to react to unfair people and situation but He certainly will deal with all of them and correct all the wrongs in his time. Trust Him.

3)    It is fair: Some may say it is not fair for God to send His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to save bad people like you and me. But it is fair to God because Jesus did pay the price of our sins so we can be saved. It is not important if it is fair. The importance is when you believe Him you certainly will be saved.