The quote is attributed to Martin Luther King but “fairness” insists that you know it actually comes from Amos 5:24.  Amos was famous for calling for justice and you will be hearing about justice until you are blue in the face in the weeks ahead.  There is a lot of bleating about “justice”, but there are not many definitions out there.  Luther was so frustrated with the term “justice” in the Bible  that it drove him to distraction.

What is justice?  There are principles of justice that serve as definitions but the problem comes in when people try and actually practice the principles.

One principle is “fairness.  Legal philosophers have a field day with this concept. Any pastor who’s ever taught confirmation class can sympathize with the ultimate question of what fairness is. A pop quiz on the second article of the creed is absolutely fair to the smartest kid in the class. It’s considered unfair by everyone else.  The very subjective nature of “fairness”, can be seen every day simply by listening to the political cacophony that surrounds us. Yet in many ways this will be the principle I would probably look closest at in making a case for the kind of justice that people will call for.

What does it mean to be fair?  I remember playing ball back in the day and the other team said it was unfair when we scored a run.  Why?  Because our center fielder was faster than anyone on their team.  So should we have put a cast on the leg of our center fielder to make the game fair?  Is a pop quiz not fair to everyone?  Should I have given the quiz to the smart kid and given the rest a chance to study.  Is that fair to the smart kid?  It would be terribly unfair to the smart kid.  Fairness means that there should be no distinction or partiality.

James 2:1-5 ESV

“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?”