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The Fairness of Grace

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

Grace is both fair and unfair.

  • Fair
  • marked by impartiality and honesty, free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism
  • consonant with merit or importance: a fair share
  • an elimination of one's own feelings, prejudices, and desires so as to achieve a proper balance of conflicting interests, a fair decision
  • Synonyms
    • Equal: of the same measure, quantity, amount, or number as another-OR-regarding or affecting all objects in the same way
    • God treats us equally regardless of what we do, believe, think, feel etc.; God sees that we are all equal and thus Grace is fair when you consider that it is the recipient that is being measured. Equal is a synonym to fair but it is also unfair to offer the same favors for different acts, beliefs feelings... Grace is unfair when it is the actions of the recipients that are being measured. But Grace is not given for such things. It is not given in exchange. We do not receive Grace for our actions, rather it is the action given for nothing.
    • Objective: free from favor toward either or any side
    • God treats us objectively; his favor is no greater or less for any individual.
    • Just: an exact following of a standard of what is right and proper, a just settlement of territorial claim
    • s Grace is not just because human justice, which is based on a system of law or rules, is based on conditions.
    • Equitable: equal treatment of all concerned, the equitable distribution of the property
    • Whether Grace is equitable or not depends on whether you consider it equitable to require fair exchange.
    • Impartial: an absence of favor or prejudice
    • Unbiased: an absence of all prejudice
    • Grace is impartial and unbiased for everyone receives all of the available Grace regardless of who they or, what they believe or do.

Grace is the landowner paying identical wages to those who worked all day and those who worked an hour; it is the father offering celebration for his son who demanded his inheritance while his father still lived--the equivalent of saying I wish you were dead--and then squandered the inheritance. Grace takes risks; it leaves the flock alone while searching for the single lost lamb. Why? Because of the context in which Grace leaves the flock in search of the single lost lamb, the flock has already recognized and accepted Grace.

People on the Fringe

A divine call to service is either not skill-based or it is for the opposite skills and experience we would assume necessary. God chose an unwed girl of fourteen to be the mother of Jesus and a shepherd boy to be Israel's king. How were they fit? It is often true that we learn from our failures and hardships. A recovering addict is a more effective addiction counselor than a teetotaler. Empathy and understanding are made easier with shared experience.

Faith and Grace over works is the theme of Jesus' parables.

Though we fall short, Grace is something for which we strive--what would Jesus do? Jesus shows that it is Grace and faith that supersedes works when he forgives the thief on the cross--a man who will never actively repair the damage he committed, study scripture or seek repentance from his victims; and yet Jesus states truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43

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