Of Justice and Injustice
Hitchhiking was once legal. So, when Archie was heading home late one night and saw a guy thumbing a lift, he decided to stop and offer him a ride. The young man was grateful and settled into the passenger seat of the single-cab ute.
As the journey progressed, they engaged in small talk. But Archie soon realized that their values and outlook on life were quite different – to the point that he began to have suspicions about his passenger’s approach to life – and in particular, his honesty. So, he carefully, and rather nervously checked the pocket of his jacket lying on the seat beside them, to see if his wallet was safe. It wasn’t there!
He hurriedly pulled off to the side of the road, stopped the car and ordered the hitchhiker out, demanding at the same time that he hand over the wallet. The frightened hitchhiker complied – and a relieved Archie quickly drove off.
When he arrived home, he began to recount his experience to his wife, but she interrupted him: “Oh, before I forget Arch”, she said. “Did you realize you left your wallet on the beside table this morning?”
Many years ago, when I was living and working in Sydney, I parked my motorbike in Elizabeth Street while I visited a number of nearby shops. Before leaving the bike, I fed the adjacent parking meter with the required coins. It was reassuring to know that I was now legally parked and wouldn’t have to worry about getting booked. But upon returning to the bike some time later, and within the allocated time, I found the dreaded brown envelope tucked under the strap across the seat.
To say I was annoyed was an understatement! But it was clearly a mistake and something that could be sorted out quite quickly I thought. So, I followed due process, expecting the City to apologise and withdraw the fine. They didn’t – instead informing me that the back wheel of my bike was on the wrong side of the white line that separated two of the parking spaces. I’d only paid for one space – not two! So petty!
Imagine my outrage! But when I’d calmed down and could think straight again, I paid the fine – rationalising that this was the only time I’d copped a parking fine despite having parked illegally on many other occasions! So, my sense of injustice melted away.
Being treated justly is important to us all. And one of the things I’ve proved through the years is that I can rely on being treated justly by a loving God. He can’t help himself really! As our Heavenly Father, he relishes giving good gifts to his children and seeing them happy and content. But that doesn’t mean he has no stomach for discipline – for discipline and personal responsibility are the building blocks of healthy relationships and a healthy society. When we respect our parents and those who exercise fair authority over us during our formative years, we develop attitudes that allow us to ride the swings and roundabouts of life without ‘sweating the small stuff”, knowing that those we trust always have our best interests at heart. And that’s certainly true of the Father of us all!