Monday, October 21, 2013

It's not fair

I'm still thinking about the Parable of the Father and his two sons.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I imagine that the Father had to sell some of his legacy land in order to satisfy the younger son's demand.

Where does that leave the older son?  He's probably his father's heir, entitled to receive a double portion of his father's estate (according to Deuteronomy 21:17).  Think about that for a moment.  I assume that means that the younger son would have been entitled to 1/3 of the father's property, and the older son, 2/3.  I was having a moment of "It's unfair to give the younger son 1/2 of the property -- he's only entitled to 1/3!"  Then I reread the parable - he asks for "the share of the property that belongs to him" - not half.

Once I called down from that, I started thinking more about the older son.  The sale of the property probably devalued what would come to him -- creating a smaller farm, less land for the family's use.  And just like us (I imagine), the older son is wondering why the younger son GETS WHAT HE ASKS FOR.  Why did the father say yes?

So, time passes, and the younger son returns.  It's no wonder the older son was disgruntled.  The father is now giving to the younger son what rightly belongs to the older son.

Are we like that sometimes?  Do we resent the restoration of someone because we see it as unfair?  The truth is, grace can be unfair.  It isn't meant to be fair.  It rankles us, because we grow up believing that fairness is the goal.  We slice the brownies so that everyone gets the same amount.  We make sure everyone has the same number of gifts under the Christmas tree.  We take turns.  We are brought up to expect (and demand?) fairness.

Grace isn't fair.  It's grace.  Undeserved.

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