As always I must clarify. Most, if not all words have more than one sense. First I want to clarify what I don't mean, which is "God isn't just." We often equate the concepts of fairness and justice. Though I don't have any particular problem with this, its the other, I think more common, sense that causes problems because we start to use it trying to carry the weight of Justice, but really it is something else. This sense contains roughly the qualities of equality and even distribution of various things (resources, time, attention, etc.). This sense of the word fair is running rampant through our culture wreaking all kinds of havoc in my opinion, because it is rooted in a basic human vice, Jealousy.
Jesus told a parable about this very thing in Matthew 20:1-16. If you recall it is the story of the master of a household who went out and hired some people in the morning promising a day's wages. He again went out at different times of the day and hired more people even up until the last hour of the day. When he paid them, he paid them all the same. The workers who worked all day basically said, "Hey, thats not fair!" Their accusation of fairness was not based on Justice, but rather on Jealousy as they felt entitled to more if they worked more, when in truth they received exactly what they were promised and agreed upon. It would have been unjust if the master of the house had paid them less than agreed. In these situations I think of a spoiled jealous kid who is angry with his parents about his new bike because the kid down the street has a new bike that is shinier and has a bell on it. How can we see the Jealousy there and yet not within ourselves when we feel wronged in such a way, when in truth our idea of fair is not just.
I started to think about this and realize this when I did something much like this kid and these workers. This summer I will be working as a TA for Phonological Analysis during the summer @ CanIL and I am blessed. However, I also had applied for a TA position for this coming fall. I was not accepted to a position for the fall and noticed that some of my friends and fellow students had received a position who had already received TA positions more than once during our time there whereas my first TA position is this summer. As I started to feel cheated and that it wasn't fair God revealed to me the poison in my veins as Jealousy. My idea of fairness wasn't based on justice or any noble quality, but rather the fit I was throwing over the boy down the street's new bike. You see, with Jealousy often comes the sentiment of entitlement, that somehow we ought to have the same or better. If God has blessed another in such and such a way, He should also bless me in that way! After I realized this error in my heart and mind it quickly abated as falsehood never lasts long in the light of truth.
I've looked around online at people's arguments biblically concerning fairness and without exception so far every time a verse they use is examined it is used in the sense of justice, impartiality, or righteousness. This is simply not the more common way we seem to use the word and concept of fair in our society. I also think it in some places has wormed its way into our theology as some people see a God who would predestine people for heaven and hell as unfair. Maybe theres something wrong with our idea of fair instead of something wrong with the doctrine of predestination?
For His Glorious Name,