And Justice For All.
“Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the Lord understand completely.” – Proverbs 28:5 NLT
Those four simple words are part of the United State’s pledge of allegiance. As children, many of us recited them each day in the classroom in some bygone era. But what do they mean? What would justice for all look like and does it ever really happen? The verse for today tells us that justice is understood only by those who follow the Lord. Those who are wicked, evil, bad, or simply choose to reject the way of the Lord have no understanding of what justice is. They tend to see it from their own perspective and define it for their own good. But according to the NET Study Bible, the Hebrew word for justice used in this verse (mishpat), refers to the legal rights of people, decisions that are equitable in the community. It has a communal aspect to it. It’s not just about MY rights, but the rights of all. And those who follow the Lord will understand justice from that perspective because God is concerned about justice for all. He is concerned for the rights and welfare of the poor, needy, disenfranchised, neglected, abused, and all those who lack representation and protection. God cares about the alien and foreigner, the widow and the orphan, the slave and the servant, the falsely accused and the unfairly treated. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus simply said, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind,’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 NLT). Love God. Love others. There it is. We are just as obligated to love others as we are to love God, because to fail to express love to those made in the likeness and image of God by the very hand of God is a slap in the face of their creator.
A big part of expressing love to others is through our efforts in assuring that they receive justice. It is making sure that their rights are protected and their status as one of God’s creatures is maintained. Justice is not just an arbitrary requirement placed on man by God. It is part of His very nature, His character. God is just and righteous and always does what is right – every time, all the time. So God expects His people to love justice just as much as He does. He requires them, as His representatives, to make sure that all men receive justice. One way we do this is by ensuring that just and righteous men and women are elected to high offices in our nation. Otherwise, we will experience exactly what Proverbs 28 warns us about. “A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a roaring lion or an attacking bear” (Proverbs 28:15 NLT). “A ruler with no understanding will oppress his people” (Proverbs 28:16 NLT). “When the wicked take charge, people go into hiding” (Proverbs 28:12 NLT).
Justice is an expression of God’s character. Injustice is anti-God. Ignoring the needs, rights, and concerns of others is selfish and, ultimately, sinful. It is ungodly, unrighteous, unloving, un-Christlike, and unacceptable in the life of a believer. To love others as we love ourselves is to do whatever we can to protect them, provide for them, and speak for them when necessary. Injustice is all around us, because sin and Satan thrive on it. Sin and Satan prey on the weak, pitting the strong against them. Our enemy’s objective is to divide and conquer. Rather than community, he strives to create disunity. He breeds selfishness and self-centeredness. He thrives in an atmosphere filled with narcissism and self-gratification. He lulls mankind into a self-centered stupor that becomes insensitive and, eventually, oblivious to the injustice taking place all around us. But God calls for justice. He demands love expressed in actions. He calls us to love others as much as we love Him, as an expression of our love for Him. That’s quite a calling. And it’s one we have ignored for far too long.
Father, as Your followers, we of all people should be screaming for justice. And we should be expressing it through our love and actions. Open our eyes to all the injustice taking place around us. Give us Your heart and the fortitude to enforce Your justice in the world today. Let it begin in our own spheres of influence. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men