Justice is not necessarily found in or confined to the courtroom. Justice and righteousness are qualities of God’s love and are reflected in the heart and lives of his sons and daughters.
I believe that God is shining a spotlight on our nation today and showing us the inconsistency and hypocrisy in our lives, our hearts and in our “religion.”
Righteousness and justice are facets of God’s love. The Word of God clearly connects love for our fellow man with our love for God. In fact scripture says it is impossible to have a right relationship with God while not loving our fellow man.
1 John 4:20-21 clarifies this connection.
- “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
The two greatest commandments from God to mankind are to love God wholeheartedly and to love our neighbor as our self. Jesus states this clearly in Mt. 22:36-40
- “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ‘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.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
In John 13:34, Jesus re-states the second command with a slight change that makes it more powerful.
- “A new command I give you: Love one another.as I have loved you, so also you must love one another.” John 13:34
This new command of Jesus defines the love we are to have for one another as a “lay down your life for” kind of love, which is exactly what Jesus did. Such love is characterized by humility; recognizing the image of God in others; valuing them; and being willing to do what is right for another person even at personal sacrifice to ourselves.
The racism that I have been seeing and reading about is not love. The recent spotlight on racism in our country is teaching me about the scope and depth of racism. I am learning that racism does not recognize value in another person or people; it does not meet needs in fact most often hinders access to having those needs met. Racism is grounded in pride, fear, and hatred; and wears boots of injustice and unrighteousness.
Racism is incongruous with being a Christian. As I have been looking through scriptures, and I am seeing that justice and righteousness are core values to God:
- “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” Psalm 89:14
Justice and Righteousness Matter
The Law and the Prophets have much to say about justice and righteousness, and therefore have much say to us in the 21st century. I put forward some of these scriptures for us to consider. While the passages included here from both the Law and the Prophets have a specific meaning in their context with Israel, these passages speak very loudly as to what God values in His people, or those who claim to be in relationship with Him.
Before we look at some of these truths, let’s review some general definitions.
- Righteousness in many of these passages refers to what is right, what is ethical, what is equitable and just.
- Justice has several definitions but all of them have the same related undertone. Here are a few of the meanings of justice: judge rightly with a sense of truth, equity and rectitude
Righteousness and justice are often paired together in scripture and at times seem to be used synonymously.
Other words such as humility, compassion/mercy and love are used in association with justice and righteousness thus further describing what justice and righteousness look like. These passage make evident the will and heart of God. God wants to see justice, righteousness and compassion in our relationships!
- “The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.” Ps. 33:5
Let Truth Impact
Please spend some time reading these and meditating on them. These passages are powerful in and of themselves, they need no commentary. They have much to say to the “church” today regarding racism in all its forms.
“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly…” Lev. 19:15
“Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.” Deut. 24:17
“Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” Deut. 27:19
“Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right…” Micah 3:9
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more desirable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:2-3
“For the LORD is righteous; He loves justice. The upright will see His face.” Psalm 11:7
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute,” Psalm 82:3
“But you must return to your God, maintaining love and justice, and always waiting on your God.” Hos. 12:6
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:24
“This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’” Zechariah 7:9
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and please the widow’s cause…” Isaiah 1:17
“This is what the LORD says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.” Isaiah 56:1
“This is what the LORD says: Administer justice and righteousness. Rescue the victim of robbery from the hand of his oppressor. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless, or the widow. Do not shed innocent blood in this place.” Jeremiah 22:3
A Concluding Reflection
Reading these passages one after the other screams out the heart of God and impacts my soul. As I read these passages, I am struck by God’s immense patience and grace, and his long held desire for us to love one another and treat each other with justice and righteousness.
In the late 60’s and 70’s, I studied about civil rights and racism and their impact on the education and development of young people. I was involved in preparing students for integration into formerly all “white” schools, but since then I have been distracted by life, even by my “religion;” and I have not been attentive to applying justice and righteousness in support of Black people.
I have not killed a black man out of uncontrolled rage and hatred; denied a black family a loan for a home; or equitable access to an education, but I deem myself a part of the problem. I have not given these injustices meaningful consideration. I have not spoken out against these and other injustices. Making “black lives matter” is part of my relationship with God and my love for Him.
I pray that you will not take offense at this article but rather I pray that all who read this will allow these truths to impact your heart and all your relationships.