/ Christian Living / There’s No Generosity in Equality

There’s No Generosity in Equality

Stacey Tuttle on August 22, 2017 - 12:15 pm in Christian Living, Christians and culture

Have you ever been around someone who was all fired up about “equality”? It sounds so good, right? Wanting everyone to be equal. Wanting to lift up those less fortunate. And in that sense it is good. But have you ever noticed how those same people are also often the least generous? They get very precise in measuring out equality. It becomes isolating. Here, let me pay for that becomes, you get yours, and I’ll get mine - that way it’ll be equal. That way I know you won’t take advantage of me or take more than your fair share.   If I pick up the bill this time, you might not do it next time. It might not be fair. I might just experience a loss, and a loss isn’t really “equal”.

Equality sounds like a good generous thing, but it really fights against generosity. God never said anything about things being equal or fair.   He could have evenly distributed money and resources and talent, but He didn’t. In fact, He very clearly blessed one nation so that they could pass on his blessings to others. He didn’t tell them to worry about equality, but to focus on being a blessing to others. He used this method instead of an equal distribution to challenge us. Those with have to learn to be generous. Those without have to learn to be patient and trusting. Both have to learn to be humble. If everything was equal it might be easier, but we wouldn’t be as stretched to grow and become more like Christ.

At its heart, equality is a poverty mentality. It’s concern that there won’t be enough, so you have to hold on to your fair share. It may start with a concern for those who have less, but it often leads to a concern that no one has more. The Kingdom mentality is that God can always supply more, so it’s OK if I give it all away. There are so many examples of this in the Bible, but let’s keep it simple and short and just look at Jesus. Jesus, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”[1]

Jesus didn’t concern himself with equality, but with obedience and service. He was generous. He gave His life. And this is the pattern He tells us to walk in. That passage starts with a challenge to us: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus...”[2] The Christ Jesus who didn’t strive for equality but instead served.

Equality isn’t always bad. It’s not always selfish. It’s just that Jesus calls us to a higher, better way than equality. That’s minimal stuff. He calls us beyond fighting for equality to a place where we live in generosity. Where we humble ourselves before our fellow man and seek not only that they are on a level with us, but that we seek to lift them up above us as we serve them. Jesus didn’t tell everyone to wash their own feet and be clean. Instead, He took on the servant’s role to wash their feet Himself, personally. This is love.  

Think about the best marriages you know. A marriage may survive with two equal partners divvying up roles and responsibilities and finances in fairness, but they usually fall into patterns of frustration and bitterness when something appears to be uneven to one or the other. Someone in such a case is bound to be frustrated when they feel they are giving more than the other. This is why the best marriages aren’t ones that focus on equality and fairness. They are the marriages between two servants, both seeking to put the other before his or her self, seeking to out-give and out-serve the other. In those marriages, you find a beautiful sense of equality, but more than that, you see love and joy and tenderness. You see well-nurtured souls.

When Satan can’t tempt us to be bad, he entices us with what seems like a good cause, and frankly, that is often the more dangerous route. We get caught up fighting for a cause that sounds really good and important and noble, and certainly, it’s better than many... but then we are focused on the fact we’re doing good without realizing that the good we are doing is in the way of God’s higher call to greatness and true Christ-likeness. Fighting for equality rather than learning to be a servant, learning to be generous...that’s just one example. Can’t you see, though, just how far it’s fallen short in the political realm? As we’ve fought for equality of race and sex and so forth, while some improvement has been made, we have also become bitter and frustrated as a whole. Things may be more equal, but we are not more grateful or humble or kind or generous. Instead, we are walking around with our fists clutched, crying foul, determined to hold on to what is mine and ours lest someone take it from us. Because no matter how much progress we may take towards change in literal, quantifiable equality, the language we use isn’t bringing us closer towards change in our hearts, towards the change Jesus asks of us, the change that makes us givers, servants and lovers of our fellow man. We are fighting for the wrong things, not because they are bad, but because they are less.

Therefore, let us, as Christ did, put aside our grasping for equality and instead take the form of servants, even to the point of death. Which is okay, because we are promised that if we try to save our life, we’ll lose it, but if we will do as Christ did and lose our lives for the sake of the Kingdom, we will find it.[3] Giving and serving, those are just ways of giving our lives...and ultimately, ways of finding our lives.

 

[1] Philippians 2:6-11

[2] Philippians 2:3-6

[3] Matthew 16:25

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