The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Justice
The Real American Dream
The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.
The Pledge of Allegiance ends with these four words: “and justice for all.” Every time you say that, you’re pledging to be part of a nation that will provide justice for all. And yet I recall the words of Thomas Jefferson who said, “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just.”
Is God concerned about justice? If you want to know the answer to that question, just start reading your Bible. You will find the Bible crammed with passages where God expresses His concern for human justice.
The Hebrew word for justice is mishpat. Often in the Old Testament this word is applied to God’s own character. God is just-He is absolutely fair and righteous in all His dealings. He gives to each person exactly what he deserves. The command to care about justice means “treating people right because you know God.” In the Bible, this concept is applied in some very concrete ways: caring for the poor; remembering the widows and orphans; not plowing the corners of your field so that the hungry can get food; speaking the truth; paying a fair wage; having honest scales; not cheating; not engaging in extortion; and refusing to take advantage of the less fortunate.
As I read the Old Testament I am struck by what God says about four forgotten groups of people: the widows, the orphans, the poor, and the foreigners. God cares what happens to these four groups of people. By the word widow, I have also written down “single parents"; by orphans, I have written down “latch-key kids"; by the poor, I have written down “the homeless"; and by foreigners, I have written down “despised ethnic and racial minorities.” It’s amazing how relevant God’s Word is. If you read any newspaper, you’ll find out that the Bible is addressing the very problems that are tearing our society apart.
God sees the displaced peoples of the world. He sees the refugees of the world. He sees the homeless, the hurting of the world, and He cares about them. He wants His people to care about them too.
What does justice look like?
1. Fair play. God tells us not to rig anything or to cheat. He expects us to exercise truth in selling, truth in merchandising, truth in advertising, and fair play toward other people. He requires that there be no favoritism, no pulling of strings, no secret bribes, nothing done under the table or behind closed doors.
2. Fair pay. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for robbing widows’ homes. This speaks directly to the slumlords who take advantage of the poor in our major cities.
3. Absolute honesty. That means telling the truth and keeping your promises.
4. Compassion toward the needy. That simply means seeing the need and caring enough to get involved.
When we work for justice, we’re truly working for God. Since we live in an unjust world, there is going to be plenty for us to do. We could all be busy twenty-four hours a day and not correct everything. People of justice will rarely be rewarded, for this is an unjust world, but we ought to treat each other fairly anyway.
Stand up for justice, and when you do, God will be standing with you.
Lord Jesus, may I not be ashamed to follow Your lead in standing up for what is right. Amen.
List several examples of injustice you have either seen or personally experienced.
What good things happen when Christians begin to care about justice in the world? What steps could you take in this area?
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