Have you ever said something like this to your mom or your teacher? “It’s not fair!” What did you mean? How can you tell when something is fair?
(Let volunteers suggest answers.) Sometimes we say “It’s not fair” when we don’t like the decision an adult (or one of our friends) has made. But usually we mean we’ve been left out or passed over when everyone else was included. We should have been included. We should have gotten a cookie, too. We should have gotten to go to the movie with everyone else. But we didn’t.
Kids use the word fairness; grown-ups use the word justice. Those two words are similar. They refer to people getting what’s right.
Getting to the Heart
Now, suppose your class has gotten a new teacher—a very strict teacher. Suppose that if you even think about disobeying the rules, he sends you to the principal’s office. You went there three times last week—and the principal called your dad or mom. One of your parents had to come to school to talk with the principal.
You and your friends can’t believe how strict this teacher is!
But one of your classmates—the class bully in fact—gets away with everything. You whisper during math class and get sent to the principal. The bully throws a dictionary across the room—and your teacher just frowns at him! You spill your milk at lunch, accidently, and get sent to the principal. The bully throws broccoli at the wall to see if it will stick—and your teacher turns away quickly, pretending not to see it!
Would you say, “It’s not fair!”? I’m sure you would, and you would be right!
But suppose you found out that your new teacher is the bully’s dad. Your teacher loves the bully—really, really loves that bully! Would you still say, “It’s not fair!”? Yes, and you would still be right. Love and justice are not the same.
The Bible tells us that God is just. He always does the right thing. He does what is fair. But the Bible also says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). His love for us has no beginning and no end. He loves us with “everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).
Can you see that God has a problem? You and I don’t just whisper during math class! We hurt other people by saying mean things. We forget to pray. We think selfish thoughts. We take things that don’t belong to us. We sometimes act very much like the bully in the story I just told. We are sinners: we sin.
Since God is just, he must—to be fair—punish us for our sins. He can’t just say, “I love them! They are my children. I don’t want to punish them.” That wouldn’t be fair; it wouldn’t be justice. But God does love us! He truly doesn’t want to punish us.
God is just. God is love. And God is wise! So he found a way to be both just and fair. He found a perfectly fair way to save us. Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, came to earth on the first Christmas. Jesus was born as a true human being in that stable in Bethlehem we sing about every year at Christmastime.
Jesus obeyed every one of God’s laws—perfectly! He never did anything wrong, not one thing! He never sinned. He grew up and did many, many good, kind things. Jesus was perfect.
Then, on the day Christians call Good Friday, Jesus let wicked people nail him to a cross. He bled and died there. He took the punishment we deserved. How that could be is a mystery and a miracle all at the same time, but it’s true.
When we see Jesus hanging on that cross, we see two things. We see how very bad our sins are and what kind of punishment we deserve. We also see how very much God loves us. We see the Bible is true when it says, “God is love!”
The story of God’s love didn’t end on that cross, though, did it? God raised Jesus from the dead on the very first Easter. On Resurrection Sunday, God proved that our sins were gone. God showed that he is stronger than death. God showed that he is just and he is love.
God loves you—each of you. He loves you and me so much that he sent Jesus to die for us. We are his very own, dearly loved children. He is our kind, good Father right now. When our lives here on this earth end, he will take us to live with him forever. What good news!
Taking It Home
Sadly, not everybody knows that good news about Jesus.
Some people think that God is like that unfair teacher I told you about, just overlooking their sins. Some people think they have no sins to forgive! They think they have never robbed a bank or killed anyone, so they’re okay. After all, “God is love,” they think. They forget one thing: it’s not fair for God to overlook any sins.
Most people don’t think about God at all. They just live for now. Someday, they will think about God, but not today.
It is important to remind yourself every day that God is just, God is love, and God is wise. Just as important, Jesus wants us to share this with someone who doesn’t know the good news about Jesus or with someone who knows, but who needs to be reminded. Think about that person now. (Pause while students think.)
Do you have someone in mind? Let’s pray for those people.
Lord God, you are just and fair. We praise you! You are also loving. We thank you! We thank you especially for sending Jesus to be our Savior, to die and rise again for us. Help us share his love with the friends we are thinking about right now. Amen.
Scriptures are from the King James or Authorized Version of the Holy Bible.