How many of you are the oldest in your family? What do you tell your parents when your younger siblings got stuff before you got stuff? “It‘s not fair!“ Or, they get to do things before you got to do things? “It‘s not fair!“ You had to wait till 20 to date and your younger sister is dating at 16. What do you say? “It’s not fair!”

I’m the youngest in my family. So my older brothers would always notice when I got stuff at an earlier age. They noticed that I was allowed to do things they were not allowed to do. They noticed that I was treated differently and would say, “It’s not fair!”

Now as a parent of three kids, I hear the same thing. To all the kids, let me explain why this is. All parents have the first child and they are over the top focused on that first kid. We just are. Nothing else was really going on, we were focused on our ourselves then, boom, an infant. When you bring that first baby home, you don’t really know what to do and you think you might break it or lose it. And so, the parents are afraid of making any mistakes. So the first kid gets a ton of attention. If the pacifier drops, it’s immediately goes through a fifteen stage cleaning process. When placed into the car seat, we do the fifteen point safety check. By the third or fourth kid, parents don’t even know if they have a pacifier. Look on the van floor and find the chicken nugget from a week ago, you’ll be good. Honestly, we can be half way to the event we are driving to and we ask the oldest one, “Do we have everyone?”

What I am telling you is, it’s not fair. Having one child is dramatically different than having three or four. So yes, each child may be raised with different rules. And the oldest one notices and says, “It’s not fair.”

This is real life. We notice that we are not all the same. Some are taller, shorter, faster, smarter, etc. We notice that every is treated the same. Some have to follow the rules, some seem to break the rules and get away with it. We notice that, “life isn’t fair.”

What do we do when we notice this? We compare and become jealous and if we stay jealous, it can ruin our hearts. It’s a natural thing inside us called a ‘selfish desire’, it’s sin. That selfish desire compares others to you. My sinful selfish desire does this because I want things to fair, to be equal. I want to make sure no one is getting more than me.

This happens at work. This happens in sports. This happens in community events. The deal is, in real life, not everyone gets a trophy.

This is why scripture says the following.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: …quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group…   NLT Galatians 5:19-20

This all comes from, “It’s not fair.” What do we do to make it fair when we follow our sinful selfish desire?

Quarreling; that means we fight to demand our way.

Jealousy; that means we are resentful or upset that someone has it better.

Angry; that means we our jealously got out of control so I my resentment has grown up into anger.

Selfish ambition; that means we do what is best for us and we don’t care about others around us.

Divisions; that means we are so hard hearted we don’t try to get along with others.

Feelings that we everyone is wrong except those in our own little group; that means we think we are right all the time.

All this comes from the feeling, the selfish feeling, “It’s not fair.” Now just as a quick time out. Parents, talk to your kids about the difference between social injustice and personally becoming a victim. Sometimes noticing, “It’s not fair,’ means we do need to do something about it. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. noticed that his race was discriminated against. He did something about it. He was a peaceful and passionate man who wanted to fix a social injustice.

I want to share with you this remarkable story in the bible. It’s a short story between Jesus and Peter.

Peter was grieved that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. 18 The truth is, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked and go wherever you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will direct you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know what kind of death he would die to glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved [that would be John] following them – the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who among us will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” NLT John 21:17-21

Jesus tells Peter, this is what is going to happen to you. Peter immediately notice the other disciple John. So he asked Jesus, “You told me what will happen to me, what is going happen to John?”

Isn’t this how we live? I am looking at my life and comparing it to your life. Don’t we want to go to God and ask, “I need to know, what’s going to happen to them?”

I want you to hear Jesus’ answer.

22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers that that disciple [that would be John] wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” NLT John 21:22-23

I love that answer. “What is that to you? You follow me.” In Jesus’ simple response he said so much. “Peter, life is not fair.”

“Peter, if someone has better than you, what is that to you? You follow me.”

“Peter, quit comparing, your focus needs to be on Me, not John.”

“Peter, the longer you focus on John, the more you will become a mess.”

How do we deal with our natural sinful selfish desire to compare with other and be jealous?

4 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. 5 Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. MSG Galatians 6:4-5

So Jesus, what if someone is better at preaching, singing, sports, mothering, business building, etc?

What is that to you? You follow me.   Quit being so impressed with yourself. Sink yourself in the work God has given you.

What if someone has more money, is pettier, is faster, is smarter, made the cut in sports?

What is that to you? You follow me.   Quit being so impressed with yourself. Sink yourself in the work God has given you.

Scripture tells us, the power you need to stay focused on God is the Holy Spirit.

25 If we are living now by the Holy Spirit’s power, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Then we won’t need to look for honors and popularity, which lead to jealousy and hard feelings. TLB Galatians 5:25-26

Every time you feel, “It’s not fair,” remember Jesus’ words. What is that to you? You follow me.   Quit being so impressed with yourself. Sink yourself in the work God has given you.

Every time you feel jealousy, remember Jesus’ words. What is that to you? You follow me.   Quit being so impressed with yourself. Sink yourself in the work God has given you.

The greatest thing you can do for your heart, ask the Holy Spirit to empower you because when you do that, you don’t need honors, popularity and validation.