Let Justice Run Down Like Water
“I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing” (Isaiah 61:8)
“Wrongdoing” includes any form of injustice, including personal bias and discrimination. Those are the things that trigger God’s hatred—and should trigger ours. Appeals to God’s justice have resonated for centuries in the pages of God’s Word.[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Bible and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day]
Consider the story of Nathan, the prophet whom God called to confront King David for his sexual assault of Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of David’s most loyal soldiers. In 2 Samuel 12, Nathan appeals to David’s God-given sense of justice by telling the story of a wealthy man, the owner of a large number of sheep and cattle, who steals the vulnerable only lamb of a poor man.
Outraged by Nathan’s story, the king demands justice for the poor wronged man: “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity” (verses 5–6).
That’s when Nathan lowers the boom. “You are the man!” (verse 7), he declares. Instead of a lamb, David, the wealthy king, had stolen the wife of his loyal soldier. Confronted with his own act of despicable injustice, David admits his guilt and repents.[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, God’s Justice Bible at The Justice Conference]
Injustice is a condition that’s easy to recognize in others—especially in institutions and governing authorities—but much more difficult to spot in ourselves. Jesus drives that point home with his scathing indictment of “eye-speck” hypocrisy in Matthew 7:3–5 — “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
We can’t legitimately claim to stand for God’s justice—or to oppose injustice in the world—until we’ve addressed the injustice in ourselves. Until we’ve taken a hard look at our attitudes toward others and the way we interact with them. Until we’ve asked God to make us aware of blind spots in our social outlook.
Delve deeper into the topics of race, ethnicity, and justice in the Bible by signing up for Bible Gateway’s two-week devotional Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Devotion About Race and Ethnicity. It walks through key Bible passages that inform our understanding of race, racism, and God’s love for all of humanity. Click to sign up.
In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul emphasized that three major social distinctions no longer matter in Christ: ethnicity (“neither Jew nor Greek”), socioeconomic status (“neither slave nor free”), and gender (“neither male nor female”). Read about this in the article, We Are Family.
In Amos 5:21-24, God makes it clear that he doesn’t want showy pretension. He doesn’t accept lip service worship. He desires people to love one another as the under-girding of justice. He wants life to be experienced fairly by all. He describes justice in terms of water: as plant and animal life flourishes where there is water, so human life flourishes where there is justice and righteousness (NIV Study Bible notes).
God’s justice—his “setting things right”—is a foundational principle of the Bible. The following is an Infographic of 12 injustices—from poverty and malnutrition to corruption and religious persecution—and what God’s justice looks like.
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April 23, 2019
April 22, 2019