Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting What I Deserve

Most of us have an innate sense of fairness. We instantly recognize when someone else is getting a bigger “half” of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And we don’t like it. We even learn social norms for fairness based on our interaction with other people.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the post office to buy stamps. At the post office everyone forms a line, and a postal employee takes each customer in order. As we were waiting for our turn, a guy walked into the post office, bypassed everyone in line, and went directly to the counter. To make matters worse, he was talking on his cell phone! Our otherwise friendly line was internally converting to a lynching mob. If looks could kill, a few old ladies would soon be on trial. Fortunately, our postal employee recognized the villain and sent the man to the back of the line while pointing to a sign that said “No Cell Phones.” We were all quietly vindicated as justice was restored.

In Christian circles we have a sense of fairness about how God and our lives should go as well. Our formula is as follows:

1. Learn what God wants.
2. Do the right thing.
3. God will bless you.
4. Everybody will be happy.

But what happens when we learn what God says and do the right thing, but we don’t experience God’s blessing? Logically, we aren’t happy. Our sense of fairness is awakened. We question God’s faithfulness or we question our formula.

Perhaps we should question our concept of God’s blessing. He does not always bless us in the way that we expect. As we mature in our faith, we begin to recognize that He is faithful even if we are not seeing His promises fulfilled.

The greatest acts of faith recorded in the Bible are by people who did not see the promises of God fulfilled in their lifetime. Sometimes God has something better for us that cannot be received during our days. May God stretch our faith beyond our generation.

39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39-40 (NIV)