Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Perfect Parent Is Unfair, and Generous

It is popular for parents to strive to be "fair" in relationship to how they distribute gifts to their children; "fair" meaning that each child receives an equal measure of the wealth distributed. This is the case whether we are talking about a weekly allowance for completion of chores, the distribution of Christmas gifts, the division of an inheritance, etc. And in my experience, it is common for parents to speak of this impartial practice with a measure of pride, as if such like disbursement is a great virtue and even proves their unbiased paternal love. I want to briefly argue that such practices are not just faulty, but ungodly. The Bible tells us so. And to further make His point, God granted me a living illustration recently, which of course is not authoritative like the Bible, but is helpful for me.

First of all, and most clearly, God, in this life and the next, does not give the same wealth of gifts to all of His children. He does not treat us all the same in this regard. (There are many Bible texts that teach this, and too, you can just look around.) Father God is not "fair," but grossly unfair, biased, and partial, but not because He loves one over the other, but because He is altogether wise. Some children simply should not have certain things, while other children should. And for the sake of brevity I am not going into all the reasons why this is so. Furthermore, I don't know all the reasons. But for this post suffice it to say that God in His complete and eternal love and wisdom does what is best for each of us. And in a very humanistic and un-Christian way of thinking, that's not fair.

Having said that, I will offer two reasons that some of God's children receive particular blessings while others do not. They are given in James 4:2-3 where the Bible tells us that there are Christians who go without for the simple reason that they have not asked God for what they desire, or they are asking, but with corrupt motives. In this context, the corruption has everything to do with selfishness. In this regard, prayer plays a vital role in how God treats us.

A few days back my son Joah received several gifts through the mail, gifts I had purchased for him. I was curious to see how my daughter Tess would react as we all sat on the living room floor and opened the boxes. I was happy to see that she was happy for him, and didn't display jealously or any other feelings of a sense of injustice. She didn't even ask why her brother was receiving the items. But if she had asked me, I would have answered that the gifts were being given to Joah because he had asked for them. It's that simple. I love my son. He wants a thing. As far as I can tell, the thing will be good for him. I have the ability to give it to him. So I grant his request. Not complicated. God Himself is like this (You should read Mt 7:7-11).

Don't misunderstand, I give gifts to my daughter as well. I love her too. More often than not I give  gifts for which my children have not asked, because it's in my heart to do so. But when I know they want a particular item or experience or opportunity, because they have expressed their desire by asking, I work to fulfill that request. Or, I say "no" to them, as God will sometimes do. But my disposition as a loving father is to say "yes" to my children. My bent is to bless them, not deny them.

May the Perfect Parent grant us the wisdom and discernment required to be generous, and unfair.