What is Biblical Justice?
Multiple Choice: According to the Bible, which of these are “justice” issues?
(a) Helping another student at school who is being bullied.
(b) Doing the 40 Hour Famine.
(c) Collecting cans for Anglicare ʻToys and Tuckerʼ.
(d) Working to change Australiaʼs current policies regarding Asylum Seekers.
Answer: All of the above!
Justice is caring for the vulnerable
In the Old Testament, God the Father is very clear about how He wants his people to live. One passage that is a good summary is Micah 6:8:
He [God] has showed you, O man, 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.
To act justly and love mercy may at first glance seem to be two different ideas, but they are not. To act justly emphasizes the way that we act, whilst mercy emphasizes our attitude, or motives, behind our actions. This means that to walk with God or live the way he wants we must do justice out of merciful love towards others.
What does 'acting justly' look like?
1. Making sure that you treat everyone the same, even those from a different race or social status.
You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 24:22)
2. Taking care of the poor, the widow or the stranger. Today this would include refugee, migrants, single parents and homeless people.
This is what the LORD Almighty says: ʻAdminister true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each otherʼ (Zechariah 7:9-10).
Justice reflects the character of God
Ultimately, we should be concerned for the poor and vulnerable because God is!
God describes himself as the ʻfather to the fatherlessʼ (Psalm 68:4-5) and commands as a part of Israelʼs worship and community life that ʻCursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” (Deuteronomy 27:19).
Later in the Psalms, we read:
He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked" (Psalm 146:7-9).
Godʼs people were to create a culture of social justice for the poor and vulnerable, a culture that would reveal Godʼs glory and His character (Deut. 4:6-8).
What can you do about justice?
As we begin to think about the concept of “justice” we need to realise that it is more than just caring for the poor. Justice is an issue that affects all of our relationships.
For Christians ʻbeing justʼ is not simply about doing the right thing but refers to our day to day living and all the relationships we are a part of. That means at least treating people with fairness, generosity and equality.
Who are the people in your life who face that need help?
What can you do, either at school or as a group, to help the disadvantaged or poor in your area?
Next time you go for a walk around your neighborhood or around the school playground, why not take note of those who are on the outer, those who are not included. And think about what you can do to bring justice to those that need it.
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute" (Proverbs 31:8).