TONY ELDER: Life may not be fair on earth, but it will be on our day of reckoning

A current TV commercial depicts a variety of situations in which people are treated unjustly. Then it suggests that a certain law firm will help you get what's fair.

It's an effective ad because it plays off something most people have sensed and struggled with all their lives -- the idea that life should be fair.

As kids, we whined over the lack of fairness: when parents disciplined us for something we didn't do; when teachers punished the whole class for the bad behavior of one student; when the other kid got to play the better position on the team, not because of his skill or effort, but simply because of his parents' relationship with the coach.

As we've moved on to adulthood, the circumstances have changed, but we still witness a lack of equity in many aspects of life. Maybe it has to do with bosses and work situations, with romantic or family relationships, with our treatment by people in government or by the laws that regulate our lives.

We even see such unfairness when natural disasters strike or health issues surface -- matters over which we find it hard to blame anyone, except maybe God Himself.

In the face of such harsh realities, some people give up on the concept of fairness altogether. They often become hardhearted and cynical, living according to some form of the philosophy that "life stinks."

Others try to hold to a belief that some force like karma will come into play or that a just God will make sure people reap what they sow while here on this earth.

They expect that people's bad deeds will one day come back to bite them and that the good deeds of others will be rewarded at some point down the road in life.

The Bible does indeed promise that we will all reap what we sow -- that those who do wrong will be punished, and that those who do what's right will be rewarded.

The problem or misconception is the idea that such settling of accounts will take place here and now, or at least during our lifespan. Some rewards and punishments may come to fruition in this life, but God doesn't guarantee such.

We shouldn't give up on the concept of fairness; we just shouldn't count on receiving it while here on earth.

Jesus talked about good people suffering and being persecuted, but then went on to declare that they would receive a great reward "in heaven" (Matthew 5:12).

On the other hand, Jesus pictured evil people who would grow and flourish in this world like tares in a field of wheat, but at the "end of this age" would face the punishment of everlasting fire where "there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43).

That promise of a future judgment day is essential in satisfying our sense of fairness. Life often isn't fair, but God is. And one day He will punish the wicked and reward the righteous.

So in light of that truth, let's not allow ourselves to get too frustrated over the seeming inequities of life. At times, good people are going to suffer and the ungodly are going to flourish.

The efforts of good people to do right and to help others may go unnoticed or be unappreciated by many. But there is a day of reckoning coming.

Maybe there are competent lawyers who can help you get what's fair in some areas of life. But more importantly, we can depend on the fact that there is a God who sees and knows everything. And one day He will make all things right.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.