It’s Not Fair!
Fairness and sharing are important
by Jan Edmunds (revised, originally published in 2006)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider the importance of sharing and trying to be fair to other people.
Preparation and materials
Familiarize yourself with the Bible story of 'The Prodigal Son', found in Luke 15.11-32.
Optional: you may wish to display the words of the poem in the reflection time so that the children can consider it further.
Point out to the children that when you are in the playground, you often hear people saying things like, ‘It’s not fair, it’s my turn!’ or ‘It’s not fair, I was here first!’ or ‘It’s not fair, they won’t let me play!’ or ‘It’s not fair, that’s my ball!’ and ‘I don’t want to be your friend any more!’ Occasionally, it can seem that you hear nothing but moans and groans.
Explain that this morning, you are going to tell a story that Jesus told and then ask some questions about it.
The story is found in the Bible in Luke 15.11-32 and it is called ‘The Prodigal Son’. (You may like to read the story directly from the Bible or use the paraphrase below.)
There was once a man who had two sons. Both worked very hard on their father’s farm. The younger one wanted to leave home and go travelling, so he asked his father if he could have his share of the property to enable him to do this. His father agreed. The young man sold his share and went off with the money.
The man went to a faraway country, where he spent his money on having a good time. Soon he had spent all the money he had been given, so he had to find work. He eventually found a job working for a pig farmer. There was a terrible famine in that land and very little food to eat. The pigs he was tending had food, but no one gave him anything to eat. The man was starving, so he began to eat the food that was meant for the pigs!
At last, the man came to his senses. He realized that he had been better off at home. He knew that his father’s servants had more to eat than he was getting. He was very sorry for what he had done and decided to return home and ask his father to forgive him.
His father had always hoped that his son would come home. Every day, his father watched the road, wishing that his son would return. One day, he saw someone in the distance. His son was coming home! He was so overjoyed that he ran to meet him.
The young man fell at his father’s feet and begged for forgiveness. ‘I wasted all your money and I am no longer fit to be called your son,’ he said. ‘Please let me be one of your servants!’
But instead of being angry, his father called the servants and told them to fetch clean clothes and prepare a great feast. ‘Let us celebrate my son’s return,’ he said. ‘I thought he was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now is found.’ So the feasting began.
Meanwhile, the elder son had been working in the fields. On his way home, he could hear the music and celebrations, and he wondered what was going on. He called one of the servants and asked what was happening. The servant told him that it was all because his younger brother had come home.
The elder son was furious. He felt that it was so unfair. He had never been given any reward for all his hard work during the time his brother had been away. Meanwhile, his brother had left home, wasted all his money, returned home penniless and was being treated generously.
When the older brother met his father, he said, ‘It’s so unfair. I have always obeyed you, I have worked like a slave for you and yet you have never done anything like this for me.’
‘My son,’ said his father, ‘everything I have is yours. You are always here with me. But I thought your brother had gone forever, and now he has come back. I have found him and I am so happy. Be happy with me.’
Ask the following questions about the story.
- What do you think about the younger son’s behaviour?
- Do you think the elder son was treated fairly?
- Why was the father so happy to see his younger son again?
- How did the father explain his actions to his elder son?
Explain that Christians believe that Jesus wanted to show that God is like the father in the story, forgiving us if we do something wrong.
There are lots of things in life that may not seem fair. This poem lists a few of them.
‘Is it fair?’ by Jan Edmunds
Split and divide, we learn how to share. Equal parts can make things fair.
Everyone should have the same, so what is wrong and who’s to blame?
Some have nothing; some have more, ending in conflict, grief and war.
So many things are there to share, but pleasing all is very rare.
Sharing the earth, the sky, the sea; some are trapped while some are free.
We share our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams, our laughter, jokes and future schemes.
There are highs and lows in daily life, joy and pain and trials and strife.
It’s fair we share our home, our pay and love for others day by day.
Sometimes we’re forced to share the pain of those we’ll never see again.
And when at times life’s hard to bear, there’s a moment we can share a prayer.
When you look at life, is it really fair?
Look harder – what could you share?
If there is enough time, you might like to explore the poem further, thinking about how we could make life fairer, both as individuals and as a school community.
Time for reflection
Are we people who always feel that things are unfair? Take a moment to think about all the wonderful things that happen in our lives. Take a moment to think about the people who are precious to us. How can we make the world a better place for those people? How can we focus on sharing and helping other people rather than complaining that everything isn’t absolutely perfect for us?
Let us thank God for the beauty of nature that we can all share.
We pray for the people in countries where there is famine and war.
Let us live in the hope that the world will become a fairer place.
Dear God, please help us to be thoughtful and caring towards others, this day and always.
Teach us to forgive. Teach us to be fair. Teach us to share.
‘The best gift’ (Come and Praise, 59)