Adam Bond (@adamtaylorbond) tweeted this week, “How can love and justice be embodied in one person? Aren’t they conflicting traits?” And my immediate response was, “True Justice can only be birthed out of true Love,” or something cheesy like that and he loved it. He acted like I was breaking new bread, saying something that no other mind had previously conceived.
This whole idea of “justice” is something I’ve been wondering about, discussing and studying for quite a while. (Quite a while for me is a few weeks. I tend not to spend much time on one topic.)
Most often when “justice” shows up in the Bible, it’s the Hebrew word “tsdaqah (tsed-aw-kaw’)” which translates primarily into English as “rightness” and then further down in the translation, according to the Theological Workbook of the Old Testament, “righteousness”.
What’s the difference between those two words, “rightness” and “righteousness”?
My idea is rightness is defined by our moral compass. Everyone sort of has this basic idea of right and wrong. You shouldn’t steal, kill or commit adultery. Even non-Christians have similar moral laws.
Now, righteousness in the slight contrary, is God’s law. Now, often God’s law and generally accepted moral law is the same. But you can look at the brutality found in the Old Testament and know that it’s not necessarily slow. Numerous times from Numbers to 2 Kings, you see God ordering the murder and slaughter of entire races (Numbers 31). Now in this through the man who God Himself says He speaks one on one with (Moses, Numbers 12), God orders the total slaughter of an entire race. Now, in our moral compasses, this seems wrong. But God calls it just.
Why? How can God not only condone but enforce the murder of an entire race? These Midianites found in Numbers 31 also happen to be the direct descendants from Ishmael (a man God never willed to exist in the first place).
So how do we go from rightness to righteousness to Justice?
8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
I think the problem with American culture today is, we don’t think on the good things. We over exaggerate the bad but give almost no countenance to the great things happening around us.
First of all, we should seek out what is good. Find what is good. Test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). And then we have to rely on the Scriptures and our conversation with God to tell us what is righteous and what is His perfect will.
We can say we are Christians but John 13:34 says “They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.” If we don’t have that love for each other, the world is not going to see anything special about us. When we see injustice, it should anger us. When’s the last time you got mad? If we truly have love for all people, all the injustice in the world would keep us up at night. The children that go hungry and the old men dying without ever experiencing the love of Christ are thing that anger me. These things keep me up at night. This is injustice. It is not fair. So what do we do about it? We hold conferences and discuss what the best thing to do is. What are you going to do? Where do we go from here? What injustice in the world keeps you up at night? Maybe it’s the people in your neighborhood that are starving. Maybe it’s the gangs in your neighborhood who are raising proteges. Maybe it’s the people that you share a house with who are not walking right with God. What are you going to do about it? Your world needs a missionary. LIVE LOUD. Amplify the love of Christ in your life or risk hearing, “Depart from me. I never knew you.”