“Apportioned as He wills”
What of life’s inequalities?
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Upon entry into World War I, the U.S. military needed to know in a hurry who among its recruits were officer material and who were more sergeant-cook material. So they devised a test for measuring intelligence.
For reasons known only to Him, God has gifted people differently in intellectual and other abilities (1 Corinthians 12:11). I have often thought that if everyone in the world had my gift set, we would all live in caves and wear banana leaves. I am good at sentence diagramming, pie crust, knowing what my husband is thinking, and whistling tunes through my teeth. I am hopeless at computers.
One discovers one’s relative place in the world through a series of hard knocks. My high-school graduating class of 75 girls was 95 percent French Canadian. But the valedictorian was Diane Wigglesworth, the salutatorian was Linda Manning, and third in GPA was Ann Suffoletto—not a Canuck among them.
Now our nation is engaged in a massive drive for “equity”—by which is meant not equal opportunity but equal outcomes. We insist that every human being should have the right to be a doctor, lawyer, and Indian chief. Boys should have the option to be girls, and girls to switch their sex to boys.
God’s big idea is that our very limitations are designed to draw us to Him if we let them.
But what if this is a totally misguided attempt, to the tune of the billions in monetary and emotional capital that we have expended in social programs and in tearing ourselves apart? As the Lord once peremptorily said in a different connection, “What is in your mind shall never happen” (Ezekiel 20:32).
It will never happen for a reason: God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:26-27).
This is key. God’s big idea is that our very limitations (I will never play first violin for the London Philharmonic Orchestra or point guard for the Celtics) are designed to draw us to Him if we let them. They are the built-in humility fosterers we need. For a man will seek after God when he feels his lowliness and not when he feels his superiority.
“Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass” (James 1:9-11).
The drive to be a “this” when God made you a “that” is only envy, envy being the fetid wellspring of every kind of evil social system down through history. A hundred years of Communism has killed a hundred million people.
God’s way is not to insist on being what one is not, but to be the best version of what one is. “Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you” (2 Timothy 1:6), as Paul said to Timothy.
And the strategies that work best to level the social playing field and enhance our chances are still the time-honored bourgeois qualities of hard work, politeness, being on time, going above the call of duty, living within our means, avoiding debt, getting married before having children, and virtuous living. For solutions to life’s persistent inequalities, we will not do better than that.
In our saner moments, we would want things just the way God arranged them—the most gifted athletes to be athletes, the most gifted surgeons to be surgeons, the wisest leaders to be our policymakers. You don’t want the guy who graduated 159th in a class of 160 to operate on your brain.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
To understand this life is not all there is: That’s the great secret of the ages that the Christian must proclaim to all the world.
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