Tag Archive for justice

Do Unto Others: Part 1–Justice

 

The Lord always does right and wants justice done.  Everyone who does right will see his face.  (Psalm 11:7 CEV)

 

 

 

Way back in 2012, we defined justice as “getting what you deserve.”

 

However, from the quote above, we can see that the Bible has more than one definition of justice, depending on the translation.  It wouldn’t make sense to interpret that God wants to see everyone get what they deserve, when His Word clearly states that, “He doesn’t want to destroy anyone but wants all people to have an opportunity to turn to him and change the way they think and act (2 Peter 3:9b GW).”

 

Instead, what the verse is saying is that the Lord does right, so that everyone who does what He does, having been created in His own image, will get to be with Him.  With this context, we can see that “justice” is referring to righteous deeds.

 

Now we also have established that salvation is by grace alone, and that through faith.  Our righteous deeds do not save us; rather, they are the evidence of our salvation.  Our making the decision to follow God and join Him in His work is what leads us to a state of righteousness.

 

Taking that into consideration, we can see that there is no separation between “being saved” and acting justly.  Doing justice (acting righteously) is the evidence of our salvation, because we are reflecting the image of the One who created us, the One who always does what is just.

 

Justice and Righteousness

 

 

Abraham is a perfect example of how this plays out.  Back when Abraham was still “Abram,” God made him a promise regarding his abundance of descendants, which Abram believed, even though he had no logical reason to do so.  Genesis 15:6 says, “Abram believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

 

This example is frequently cited when people explain salvation by faith, but there is more going on here.  Abram’s act of faith entered him into a covenant with God.  God bound Himself with a promise because Abram fulfilled his part of the covenant, which was to believe and conform to God’s plan.  Therefore, the “righteousness” with which he was “credited” is something like a legal standing.  Abram isn’t just a good guy; he has a distinct position because of his act of faith.

 

In other words, he did the right thing, and it had a good result.  His salvation was through God’s grace, but it was also an act of justice.  Abram got what he deserved, because he did what God expected him to do.

 

The prophet Micah, in chapter 6 of the book bearing his name, asks rhetorically what must be done to get God’s attention and earn His forgiveness.  Then he answers his own question, saying:

 

The Lord has shown you what is good.  He has told you what he requires of you.  You must act with justice.  You must love to show mercy.  And you must be humble as you live in the sight of your God.  Micah 6:8 NIRV

 

The key word in that quote is “act.”  God wants us to do justice, not just think happy thoughts about it.  And how do we do that?

 

The simplest way is to stop thinking of ourselves first.  God wants us to think of Him first, because of who He is.  Next, as written in Philippians 2:4, He wants us to “look out for each other’s interests and not just for your own.”

 

Doing this can be temporarily inconvenient, but it will yield great rewards.

 

(For more on the “show mercy” bit, come back for part 2.)

 

DN=: Part 13–Fair Play

 

“It’s not fair!”

 

Every child ever

 

 

Justice, as you’ll recall, is when we get what we deserve.  It’s interesting, though, to note how abruptly our stance on justice and fair play adjusts depending upon which side of the justice we find ourselves.

 

We sure don’t mind dispensing justice; however, receiving it is a different story.

 

As in so many other situations, our pride is the problem.  If we exalt ourselves to think that we are above justice, and that “the rules” don’t apply to us, then it would follow that we wouldn’t expect to partake in the natural consequences of breaking those rules either.

 

JUSTICE DN= GETTING YOUR WAY

 

So although in truth justice is always fair, it only FEELS fair if we have a clear understanding of what it is that we truly deserve:

 

Adam sinned, and that sin brought death into the world. Now everyone has sinned, and so everyone must die.  (Romans 5:12 CEV)

 

However. . .

 

The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
very patient, and full of faithful love.
 God won’t always play the judge;
he won’t be angry forever.
He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin
or repay us according to our wrongdoing,
     because as high as heaven is above the earth,
that’s how large God’s faithful love is for those who honor him.
 As far as east is from west—
that’s how far God has removed our sin from us.
 Like a parent feels compassion for their children—
that’s how the Lord feels compassion for those who honor him.
(Psalm 103: 8-13 CEB)

 

Did you catch the key phrase there?  David repeated it to make sure that you would.  Justice is universal, but God reserves grace for those who honor him.

 

Without this grace, the only thing left for us is justice.  The universal natural consequence of our universal sinful nature is death.  This is the ultimate Truth of our lives, and complete reliance on Jesus for our salvation is the only way out of it.

 

Obviously, many reject this Truth.  Equally obvious is the fact that we all have a choice to accept it or reject it.

 

Nevertheless, for some reason the prevailing mentality in this country has become that one can do whatever one wishes, up to and including a complete rejection of universal Truth, and suffer no consequences whatsoever.

 

We all have desires.  However, a person who is ruled by pride will view the fulfillment of his or her desires as the primary goal.  Those that are successful in fulfilling a few of these desires may quickly begin to regard this fulfillment as an entitlement.

 

Then, in their own minds, they will conceive a bogus sense of fair play, in which they “deserve” to get whatever they want whenever they want, and anyone or anything that would deny them that is guilty of an injustice.

 

However:

 

Many people vie for special treatment from a ruler,
yet genuine justice proceeds from the Eternal.  (Proverbs 29:26 VOICE)

 

Because God alone is righteous, and because God alone determines Truth, it is only by God’s authority that true justice can be dispensed.

 

The eternal, indisputable and universal justice that applies to all humanity is not only manifest in our rights, but also in our consequences.

 

A majority of humans may get laws changed.  A government skilled in social engineering may even be able to get the attitude of a nation changed.  But NOTHING a government or its advocates can do will ever be able to change the natural consequences of a choice.

 

A government can grant or deny privileges.  A government can mandate civil responsibilities.  A government has the authority to set its own civil penalties for breaking its own rules and laws.

 

But a government will NEVER be capable of conferring rights upon any subset of the human race.

 

Yes, this even includes homosexuals.

 

(Yeah, I went there.  Wait till you see where I go next in Part 14–Equal Opportunity)

 

Christianity’s PR Problem–Part 5: PRactice Grace

 

 

You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

 

Some of us are blessed with great relationships with our extended families, others not so much.    But we keep going back to the cookouts, don’t we?  Because, well, they’re FAMILY!  It’s always a little easier to put aside differences when you’re tossing beanbags with brats on the grill.

But after the cookout, and the cleanup, and the kisses goodbye, the differences remain.  Every family has them.  However, the differences are thrown into sharp relief in a family where some of the members are Christians and some are not.

If you, like me, are among the first in your family to come out as an evangelical Christian, it can be uncomfortable at first.  Not only do you stick out like a sore thumb, but you see everyone else differently. 

No matter what your family situation is or what kind of relationships you have with them, there is one thing you must never forget.  It wasn’t anything you did that made you different from them. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast.  (Ephesians 2:8-9 RSV)

Now I do not want to assume that everyone reading this knows what is meant by “grace.”  Basically, it means “unmerited favor,” or getting something you didn’t earn.

Say for example you’re speeding down the interstate, and you get pulled over.  You know you deserve a ticket.  Getting what you deserve is justice.

What you HOPE will happen instead is that the officer will let you off with a warning.  Not getting what you deserve is mercy.

But what if instead the officer comes up to your car window and says, “You and I both know you have broken the law.  But nobody’s perfect.  So instead of a ticket, I’m just going to give you this Hershey Bar.  Have a nice day!”

 That’s not normal.  Not for a regular person anyway, but Jesus wasn’t a regular person. 

 He didn’t wait for us to clean ourselves up and be “good enough” for Him before He called us to follow Him.  We’ll never be good enough.  That’s the whole point of grace—we can’t do it ourselves.

Meanwhile, back at the family reunion. . .

 

Take a look around the yard at all these people getting on your nerves–these people you feel you have nothing in common with anymore.

Now look at them again, Christian.  You DO have something in common with them—genetic material.  Before God, in His mercy and grace, saved you, you were just like them.  In more ways than you care to admit, you still are.

So PRactice grace by loving your family for who they are, not who you think they ought to be.  PRactice grace by appreciating them for what they do, not for what they can do for you.  PRactice grace by looking past the rough edges to the heart inside—the heart that has a God-shaped hole in it just like yours once did.

But most of all, PRactice grace by simply hanging around with them.  Look past the differences and find the common ground.

After all, they’re family.  And you’re stuck with them.

(Next, Part 6—PRove It!)