Do Justice, What does it mean?
Most People think of Justice as:
Retribution or consequence placed on an individual based on their actions
Biblical Justice However
Goes beyond punishment, to restore 'right' relationships, with others and treats ALL with their God given dignity. Putting things right the way the Creator intended.
Our view of justice is limited and imperfect. Our view of justice can often times do more harm than good. We need to learn how to hold fast to our convictions while learning and EMBRACING people of different backgrounds, including those who have committed offenses against us or those we love. Including those who have committed crimes. We must embrace those that are not like us, those that don't believe as we do, look like we do, act like we do. Our desire to embrace the unjust must be greater than our desire for agreement on what justice is.
Justice is embodied in the book of James when he says we need to be 'doers' of the Word, not just 'hearers'.
How did Jesus act justly?
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.' And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.
Justice Reflects the Character of God
Why should we be concerned about the vulnerable ones? It is because God is concerned about them. It is striking to see how often God is introduced as the defender of these vulnerable groups.
Justice is Right Relationships
We must have a strong concern for the poor, but there is more to the biblical idea of justice than that. In our world could mean prosecuting those who exploit, mistreat, or harm others. It could also mean respectfully putting pressure on those in our leadership to care and respond to the needs of those in what society would call the less desirable neighborhoods, the same as they do in affluent areas.
Justice is rooted in LOVE
Again there are many that will say that what I am describing is not justice, it is mercy, compassion, or charity. Justice is punishment for doing something wrong. God seeks to reestablish in His creation where all people receive the benefits of life with Him.
Frequently justice and love are found together in scripture. Biblical justice is dynamic and restorative. This restoration is a restoration to community. The Bible speaks beyond unbiased procedure to relational caring for the oppressed regardless of social, economical, or religious standing.
THINK ABOUT THIS: In the Old Testament, Israel are referred to as 'chosen people'. God was taking steps through Israel to make things better for all. The Sabbath guaranteed a day of rest for all including the slaves. Every 7 years all debts where canceled, allow the poor to gather food from others fields, and set slaves free. Jubilee released slaves, returned land to its original owner. Why did God set things up this way? The were set up to level the playing field in a sinful world and end poverty among the nation of Israel. A kingdom with poor citizens reflect poorly on the King.
Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love.
Care goes beyond food, shelter, and clothing
Our greatest commodity, the greatest resource we can provide costs us nothing by our time. Sometimes this is worth more than money to those in need or being oppressed.
JUSTICE—is rendering to every one that which is his due. It has been distinguished from equity in this respect, that while justice means merely the doing what positive law demands, equity means the doing of what is fair and right in every separate case.
In the books of Acts we see them living this out tremendously as in Acts 4:34
There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them.
This is the mirror image of what God was calling Israel to do in Deuteronomy 15:4
Authors Note: Let this sit in your heart for a bit. I am sure that there will be many challenges that rise up such as but what about enabling, what if they don't use the money for what they said they need etc. I do plan on addressing this in my next posting.