Equity Over Equality
“Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path” (Proverbs 2:9).
by Benjamin and Gabriella Stein
Equity is a one-word summary of many lessons in the Book of Proverbs. It conveys the thought of perfect justice — unattainable to mankind, yet natural for God. Equity implies equal opportunity. It differs from equality in that equity considers our unique strengths and capacities rather than simply treating all of us exactly the same.
Wisdom by itself is a powerful tool but it may be used in a variety of ways, including some that are selfish and contrary to God’s agenda. For King Solomon to properly serve God’s people Israel, he would need to serve with equity: wisdom plus the principles of righteousness and love.
Solomon and Equity
As a young man, Solomon would have witnessed his father David resolve civil disputes. He would have seen his father execute both good and poor judgments.
When God asked Solomon, “Ask what I shall give thee,” Solomon replied, “an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (1 Kings 3:5,9). As God demonstrated with King Solomon, He always has a perfect understanding of what we truly need, and what is best for us. God’s perfect understanding allows Him to deliver equity in what each of us receives; not too much of anything and never too little, but the right amount for each of us. So it was with Solomon. God granted all that he asked for, along with the wisdom to apply it properly. Solomon was given the wisdom to judge God’s people with equity throughout the Kingdom of Israel.
In the scriptures which follow the account of his dream (1 Kings 3:16-28), Solomon demonstrated incredible wisdom by delivering perfect justice in the case of the disputed maternity of a newborn child. Solomon used wisdom with equity (righteousness and love) to make a proper judgment. His words had an effect far beyond the needs of the two women. With his words, Solomon inspired the people of Israel with confidence in their future.
Solomon may have known (through intuition) the true identity of the child’s mother as they presented their claims. But even a correct decision could have been seen as an arbitrary decision by all of his people who were watching. King Solomon’s solution was to cut the child into two equal parts, for each woman to have her fair share. It was with this proposal that the true mother was revealed; “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” The false mother, even after hearing this said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours” (1 Kings 3:26). With this revelation, the King declared, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother” (1 Kings 3:27). King Solomon’s wise method confirmed the divine wisdom he received from God and forever demonstrated judgment with equity; the new standard for the people of Israel. Solomon’s equitable judgment was inspirational!
King Solomon’s solution of cutting the child into two equal parts revealed the injustice of equality. To judge with equity, King Solomon observed the primal reactions of each woman and thus the truth was revealed.
Solomon’s judgment with equity taught a different lesson to each witness in the audience, according to what they needed to learn. For the two women, his statement revealed the truth. For those watching, Solomon earned the moral authority to rule Israel. There was no doubt in their minds that God had chosen Solomon to be King of Israel. “And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment” (1 Kings 3:28).
Invited to Understand God and Equity
The beginning of Proverbs 2 holds a powerful conditional invitation to find the knowledge of God and to understand the principle of equity. The first four verses provide the conditions, and the promise follows: “If you will receive my words … incline thine ear unto wisdom … seek her as silver … then shalt thou … find the knowledge of God … and equity” (Proverbs 2:1-9).
Attaining a true understanding of equity indicates one has found the knowledge of God. God claims to execute perfect equity in all things (James 1:17-20). The problem for the world today is that there is such a narrow path for finding the true knowledge of God.
For instance, there is nothing equitable about the teachings of salvation in most of Christianity; no salvation is provided to unbelievers. Many who see God through these kinds of Christian teaching, see Him as unreasonable.
Unbelievers will either never hear the name of Jesus or will be influenced by non-Christian religions. Of those unbelievers who learn something of God, most are taught that He is an angry God rather than one who judges equitably and justly, with righteousness and love. Today, the opportunities for mankind to know God and Jesus are simply not equitable by God’s standard nor equal by mankind’s standard.
Furthermore, if we look at Jesus’ own words, he narrows the opportunity for unbelievers even further by teaching, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44), and “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). Clearly, the opportunity to “find the knowledge of God” and to “understand righteousness, and judgment and equity” is extremely limited for the world of mankind and not an equal opportunity for them in this lifetime.
The Truth of God’s Equity
Equity is illustrated beautifully in God’s lovely provision of the ransom. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming [presence]” (1 Corinthians 15:21-23).
God provided an equitable remedy for the salvation of all mankind because it was needed. The remedy of the ransom applies to all who are in Adam, since they are the ones in need of salvation. In God’s equitable plan, salvation does not depend on whether one was raised in a Christian family or had an easier childhood. Salvation does not depend on any specific experiences that might have drawn one closer to God or pushed them away. God’s equitable provision of the ransom purchased the entire human race, through the righteous blood of Jesus, so that all mankind receives an equitable (perfectly just) opportunity to know God.
In God’s righteous Kingdom, the glorious Christ, head and body, will rule the world with equity similar to King Solomon’s righteous reign over Israel. Following after the people of Israel, the world will come to recognize and obey their righteous rulership. “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
Yes, each of mankind will need to repent of sins and walk the Highway of Holiness. But we are promised that God’s Kingdom will become a perfect environment, without the tempter’s constant attacks, and without the uncertainty of the truth or dependence on human explanations and influences (Isaiah 35:8-10). This glorious phase of God’s Kingdom is the perfect example of God’s equity since it truly gives everyone a “perfectly just” opportunity for salvation.
God’s Equity Seen by Faith Today
Despite the lack of evidence (to the world of mankind) of a God who has a plan of perfect equity, His perfect provision of redemption and salvation may be seen today (by the called) through the eye of faith.
Jesus taught his disciples about the high calling: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Following Jesus results in a life of both opportunity and trial.
Regarding opportunities, the Parable of the Talents teaches that both talents and opportunities are distributed to the called ones, “to every man according to his several [separate or unique] ability” (Matthew 25:14-30, Strong’s G2398). The talents (abilities) we receive, and our lot in life (opportunities), are specific to each individual, according to their background, training, abilities, heart condition, etc.
In this parable, Jesus also teaches that God will hold us responsible for the talents and opportunities He has given us, and not more. It also teaches that we are responsible to use the talents we are given, whether they be prophecy, teaching, pastoring, exhortation, hospitality, giving, prayer, etc. and whether our opportunities for contribution are public or private. Like Jesus, we must follow him by rendering all things to God, for God gives them all to us according to our unique abilities.
By taking up our cross and following Jesus, we should expect unique, faith-building experiences. Like Jesus, each of us are given the exact experiences we need for a specific present and future purpose (Hebrews 12:11). None of us begin our walk with the same talents and opportunities of another and none experience their same difficulties. Therefore, we must avoid making comparisons within the brotherhood.
It is natural for our flesh to compare our walk with that of our brethren. When we make such comparisons, our flesh may take over and allow pride to enter our hearts; we may even believe that we have accomplished “more” than our brethren (1 Corinthians 4:7).
In contrast, when comparing our trials, ours may be less severe. In this case, we should never consider our trials trite or minor compared to those of others. Instead, the Apostle Paul encourages us to remember that the body has many members, each with their own unique and important function (Romans 12:3-13). As God overruled for Jesus, God is watching over each of our experiences to prepare us for a specific and beautiful position. God promises to give each of us the necessary (and equitable) experiences in order to develop the graces of the spirit according to His will (Hebrews 12:6-7).
Temptations are permitted to come into each of our walks according to our own ability. A struggle for one of us may not be a struggle for another. Similarly, a strength that may come easily to one may be unattainable for another. In either case, we can see the principle of equity at work in God’s development of the Bride of Christ during the Gospel Age. In our experiences, our talents, our trials, our temptations and struggles, we should see God bringing us closer to Him through the growth and development of our new creature. We are thankful that God is our judge and that He develops us and judges us with equity, His perfect justice.
Like King Solomon was to the Kingdom of Israel during his righteous reign, our God, in His perfect wisdom, power, justice, love, and mercy, is equitable in all His plans and purposes. As the children of Israel were blessed to live under King Solomon’s righteous reign, we are immeasurably blessed to serve a God who interacts with us with true fairness and love.
The truth about God’s permission of evil in our world today and His promises of a righteous kingdom assure us that God’s great plan of atonement will soon provide salvation to all mankind with perfect equity. Blessed are our eyes for they see and our ears for they understand this beautiful feature of God’s plan!