There can be no doubt that God loves justice. In the Bible justice is often linked with righteousness (right living) and mercy. I am not talking here about justice in the context of judgement of wrong-doers. I am talking about Justice in the way we treat our fellow-men who may be poor, disadvantaged or weak.
Justice and Righteousness
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24)
Justice in the Bible is about putting right the ways in which men oppress the disadvantaged, the poor and the stranger (refugee). Righteousness is about right living. There are 35 or so instances in the Old Testament where the words justice and righteousness appear together, linked in the same verse.
The Almighty … In his justice and great righteousness he does not oppress. (Job 37:23)
I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight”. (Jeremiah 9:24)
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. (Psalms 36:6)
Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness. (1 Kings 10:9)
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. (Psalm 37:6)
But with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the Earth. (Isaiah 11:4)
The New Testament
There are 93 references in the New Testament that refer to justice or righteousness though none that link the words directly together. However in the Old Testament, prophecies that refer to Jesus and the church do link these 2 words together. The principles then remain true. Paul says of the Corinthian church:
See what this godly sorrow has produced in you… What longing, what concern, what a readiness to see justice done. (2 Corinthians 7:11)
God obviously cares a great deal about justice for the oppressed and wants his people, and his church to apply justice in their everyday lives. Let us like the church in Corinth have a readiness to see justice done, for the poor, the oppressed, the disadvantaged and powerless of this world.
Justice and Mercy
God is a God of justice but is not vindictive. His dealings with men always have the aim of restoring the relationship of God and man. This restoration became complete when he sent his son, Jesus, who died for the sins of the whole world. So too, we are called to mix justice with mercy.
- As we strive to correct the actions of the men who oppress others we must also have mercy on those who oppress, realising that we could so easily have done the same.
- So when we point out that poverty is man-made and due to greed, let us show mercy to the rich because it is so easy to fall into the same trap.
- When we seek to release the oppressed from slavery, let us extend humility to those who exploit them.
We are made in the image of God and we are never more human than when we reflect the attributes of God. In the book of Micah, the prophet spells out what God expects of us. Let us seek to bring justice to the poor, the disadvantageous and the oppressed. Let us have mercy on our fellow-man and do all with an attitude of humility.
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 NIV)