Playing Favorites, Playing Fair
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Did you ever notice that children are great score keepers, almost before they can count. Oh yeah, they're really adept at measuring how they're being treated compared to the other kids in the family. Maybe you've noticed that. Now, our oldest - our daughter, was followed by a brother two years younger. And when they were little, I was introduced to this score keeping aptitude by little brother's four word statement, "How come my sister?" He'd then go and talk about some inequity he had noticed. It was always followed by little brother's presentation of some perceived injustice. His sister apparently got something good that he didn't get. Or he got something bad that she didn't get. "How come my sister?" It sure did make me think twice when I was buying gifts to bring back from a trip, and a lot of other choices I made. Actually, our son was verbalizing a concern that bothers a lot of us long after we're grown up.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Timothy chapter 5. And we're reading here what you might call rules or guidelines for governing. It's written specifically to elders in Christian work. I think it applies to anyone who has a leadership role: a parent, a pastor, a teacher, a supervisor, an employer. In a sense, it's a principle of peaceful relationships.
Our word for today says this, "I charge you in the sight of God and Christ Jesus, and the elect angels." Listen, when Paul says something like that, it's like, "Pay attention!" He says, "...to keep these instructions without partiality and to do nothing out of favoritism." Now, that kind of impartial governing is consistent with God's governing.
Remember the scriptures tell us, "He is no respecter of persons." He gives out discipline and rewards with total impartiality. There are no privileged characters. Now, God is no respecter of persons, but we tend to be. And few things have more power to divide people than unequal treatment - playing favorites. It just doesn't belong in Christian relationships. Now, it begins at home. And believe me, the kids are keeping score. Usually there's a child that we're drawn to maybe because, well he's lovable or easy to handle, or a lot like us, or gives us good feedback. And it's easy to inadvertently favor that child.
Sometimes it's the opposite. We favor the one who's more difficult, and we neglect the one who's doing well because they don't seem to need much attention. A wise parent will calculate the fairness effect before he gives or takes away anything.
Now, this impartiality affects other arenas too. If you're a boss, the supervisor, partiality will cost you your credibility. If you're in Christian work, being partial to the rich or the powerful will take you right outside the biblical values. So much Christian work follows the money. Money should never rule church decisions.
Now, if you try to be impartial and fair, you'll sometimes be misjudged. But go ahead with God's green light as long as God knows you're playing no favorites. Now, people will measure your fairness and they'll measure your favoritism after you act. We should measure it before we act. What's the ripple effect going to be? How will this be perceived in terms of its justice - its fairness? How will this make everyone else feel beside the person I'm deciding for right now?
In Godly governing, there's just no room for playing favorites, because God doesn't.