Because my wife is a Special Education Teacher, I learned a long time ago that “being fair doesn’t mean you give everyone the same thing. It does mean you give everyone what they need.” That made sense to me when I first heard it, and it still does today.
In that same vein of thought, “Love doesn’t treat everyone the same way, it discriminates.” I was reminded of this truth as I reading about the birth of Jesus in Luke 1. The angel Gabriel appeared both to Zacharias and later to Mary, informing them respectively of the births of John and Jesus.
However, when Zacharias was told he was going to have a son he questioned the angel saying, “How shall I know this for I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years (Luke 1:18)? Mary responded in a very similar way by saying, “How can this be, since I do not know a man” (Luke 1:34)?
Although their responses were similar, God dealt with them differently. Zacharias was made mute for the next nine months for his lack of faith (Luke 1:20), but no such punishment was meted out upon Mary. Was God unfair because he treated them differently? Or could this discrimination be a display of how God loves us?
I can think of at least two potential reasons why God dealt with these two godly people differently.
- Maybe more was expected of Zacharias because he was an aged priest of God, and more was expected from him because of his maturity?
- Maybe Zacharias’ question was more rooted in disbelief while Mary’s question was rooted, not in disbelief, but in a lack of understanding. While we can’t know that, God, who knows our hearts, could.
What I do know is that God discriminated between these two people.
- Did he love them both? Yes, God loves all men (John 3:16).
- Did God treat them fairly? Yes, for he is a God of justice (Isaiah 61:8).
- Did he treat them the same? No. Why? Because treating people fairly isn’t always giving them the same thing, it’s giving them what they need. Being fair requires discrimination. It’s harder than “blanket rules.”
Aren’t you glad that God loves us as a discriminating Father and doesn’t expect more than we can do, but understands us individually, and always responds to us accordingly? Give it some thought!