30 Oct Understanding a Biblical View of Justice
Justice is a word we hear daily in today’s society. As Christians, justice is something that we should diligently pursue and champion. But, how should Christians promote justice in their everyday life? Why is justice so important to the heart of God? It is important to consider these questions as we strive to view justice through the lens of the Bible.
What does the Bible say about justice? Throughout the Bible, we are clearly called to seek justice and do good to fellow mankind. Justice is a key element of God’s character, a foundational belief of Christianity. The Bible provides many examples of justice from which we can draw inspiration and encouragement.
In America, justice, specifically social justice, continues to be a hot topic. How are social justice and Biblical justice different? Are they really the same thing after all? In this post, we will share important Bible verses regarding justice. We will take a closer look at what the Bible has to say about justice as well as share practical steps for promoting justice in your everyday life.
Developing a Biblical View of Justice
As Christians, it is important that we view every topic through the lens of Scripture. By rooting our beliefs in Biblical truth, we will be able to promote values that are foundational to our beliefs. Developing a Biblical view of justice is key to promoting justice in our daily lives.
What is Justice?
Merriam-Webster defines justice as “the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments; the quality of being just, impartial, or fair.”
More simply stated, justice is the act of making things right. Justice is treating people fairly. Understanding that humans are created equal, and valued equally regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity, social status, or any other characteristic
I don’t know of any Christians who would argue that justice is important and should be evident in our daily lives. However, far too often, Christian communities are associated with injustice or a failure to pursue justice on behalf of those less fortunate than ourselves. Because justice is a key attribute of God’s character, it is important that we take the time to better understand how to practically exemplify this attribute in our own lives.
What Does the Bible Say About Justice?
Unsurprisingly, the Bible has much to say about justice. Micah 6:8 is a popular rallying cry for justice in the Bible. This verse reads as follows, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Proverbs 31:8-9 reads, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” So, what does it really mean to “do justice”?
In his book Generous Justice, Timothy Keller writes, “God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we. That is what it means to ‘do justice’.”
This quote does a great job of summarizing a Biblical view of practically promoting justice in our daily lives. Let’s take a closer look at some of the specific lessons we learn about justice throughout Scripture.
Christianity Should Be Rooted in Justice
In an article featured on christianitytoday.com, Professor Paul Louis Metzger writes, “In our post-Christian setting, many skeptics view religion as corrosive, divisive, and a source of injustice. But the kind of religion the Bible advocates is rooted in justice that flows from the heart of God. It seeks to bring all things into the wholeness of God. As those justified by faith in the God of all justice, we are to experience the wholeness that he brings and extend it as citizens of his kingdom.”
The Bible clearly teaches that justice should be a key aspect of a Christians’ life. Far too often, Christians are seen as passive bystanders in the quest for justice. While they may promote justice within their social circles, they are hesitant to step outside these circles to promote justice in the world as a whole.
As Christians, we should be leading the way in promoting justice for all people, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, social status, sexual orientation, or other characteristics.
Justice Flows From the Heart of God
In countless passages throughout both the Old and New Testament, we are called to care for the vulnerable. This is clearly a topic that is close to the heart of God. As such, it should be of utmost importance to the Christian community!
Throughout Scripture, we learn that God not only desires for His people to actively seek justice but to also be careful that they aren’t participating in oppression of any kind. We are admonished to care for the orphan, the widow, the vulnerable, the helpless, and the foreigner. Justice flows from the heart of God. It should be our goal to exemplify this character quality in our lives as well.
Justice is part of God’s character. He is, and always will be, perfectly just. God defines justice and He sets the standard for how justice should be portrayed in the life of the Christian.
Christians Are to Extend Justice to The World Around Us
As Christians, we are called to be a light to the world. We are to lead by our example in thought, word, and deed. It is our responsibility, privilege, and calling to extend justice to the world around us. Instead of being a community that shuns the vulnerable (knowingly or unknowingly), we should be welcoming them in with open arms.
Through the fair treatment of all humans, we can graciously extend the love of Christ to people who are hurting and in need of God’s love. Keep reading for several practical ways to extend justice to the world around us in our daily lives.
Justice Reflects God’s Character
In Psalm 68:5, the author describes God as the “[f]ather of the fatherless and protector of widows…”. During His time on earth, Jesus went out of His way to connect with the vulnerable, to help the helpless, and to provide an example of how we should continue after His ascension into heaven.
When we promote justice in our world today, we are reflecting the character of God in a practical way to those who need it most.
To sum up this portion on what the Bible says about justice, here is another incredible quote from Timothy Keller’s book, Generous Justice, “[I]f you are trying to live a life in accordance with the Bible, the concept and call to justice are inescapable. We do justice when we give all human beings their due as creations of God.”
He continues, “Doing justice includes not only the righting of wrongs, but generosity and social concern, especially toward the poor and vulnerable. This kind of life reflects the character of God. It consists of a broad range of activities, from simple fair and honest dealings with people in daily life, to regular, radically generous giving of your time and resources, to activism that seeks to end particular forms of injustice, violence, and oppression.”
Important Bible Verses About Justice
Are you looking for a quick reference on a Biblical view of justice? Here are just a few important Bible verses about justice:
- Micah 6:8
- James 1:27
- Proverbs 29:7
- Proverbs 21:15
- Exodus 23:6
- Matthew 23:23
- Luke 11:42
- Leviticus 19:15
- Deuteronomy 10:17-19
- Matthew 9:35-38
- Acts 3-4
- Psalm 146:7-9
- Acts 5:12-16
- Isaiah 1:17
- Psalm 68:4-5
- Zechariah 7:10
- Deuteronomy 27:19
- Matthew 6:1-2
- Deuteronomy 32:4
- Proverbs 31:8-9
- Psalm 89:14
- Psalm 82:3
By reading through the many stories in the Bible that focus on the topic of justice, we can develop a better understanding of the Biblical view of justice.
What is Social Justice?
Dictionary.com defines social justice as “fair treatment of all people in a society, including respect for the rights of minorities and equitable distribution of resources among members of a community.” Social justice is a term that we hear daily in our society. It continues to become a hot button that triggers great emotional responses from many individuals. Unfortunately, this is not without good cause!
While our country continues to work towards a just and fair society for all people groups, many forms of social injustice exist today. So, why are so many Christians up-in-arms regarding the topic of social justice? Simply put, I believe much of it is due to a misunderstanding in believing that social justice is different than Biblical justice. In many ways, however, they are the same issue!
Social Justice vs. Biblical Justice
What is the primary difference between social justice and Biblical justice? In short, the primary difference between these two forms of justice is the end goal. Social justice often has a very temporary view. Social justice seeks to address injustices within our society, there is no eternal view in mind. Biblical justice, however, is justice that keeps an eternal view in mind. Biblical justice has the foundational belief that God sees each of us as equal, created in His image. While Biblical justice and social justice may seem like separate issues, to the Christian, they should really be one and the same.
The Christian community should partner with those working to promote social justice, understanding that the end goal is correcting injustices within our society is treating each person as the unique individual that they are, created in God’s image.
How Should Christians Promote Justice in Daily Life?
While most Christians agree that it is important to promote and pursue justice in everyday life, they struggle with implementing the necessary practical steps. There are countless ways that you can promote justice in your daily life. In order to do so, you must constantly observe the world around you. You must be conscious of injustices that are far too many people choose to overlook.
Here are just a few practical ways that you can exemplify justice in your daily life:
Justice is Caring For Vulnerable People Groups
Unfortunately, there are countless people groups in our world today who fall into the category of vulnerable. From widows and orphans to the homeless community and others, it is not hard to identify these groups in our communities. Promoting justice means caring for people who are vulnerable and helpless. It means stepping up to fill a gap or meet a need they may be experiencing.
Justice is using your gifts, resources, and voice to care for the needs of those who may have less than you. Pray for open eyes and an open heart to see the needs of your community and then bravely step into the role of exemplifying justice to those around you.
Justice is Restoring Relationships
Throughout history, many rifts have formed between different groups of people. In America specifically, relationships between various social groups have been destroyed, cities have taken sides on issues, or groups have taken advantage of the vulnerable. As Christians, we can exemplify justice when we take action to restore relationships that are broken.
This could be rectifying relationships in your own life that have fallen apart or acting as a mediator between different groups in your community. Justice is about righting the wrongs that have occurred, whether we were part of the initial injustice or not. It is about re-integrating and restoring relationships that have been broken as a means of ensuring that each person is treated fairly.
Justice is Living Generously
In most cases, actively promoting justice in our world today requires us to live generously. Justice requires us to give of our time, our money, and our emotions. It is acting in love and mercy, always doing the right thing regardless of the cost.
In a quote shared earlier, Timothy Keller stated, “Doing justice includes not only the righting of wrongs, but generosity and social concern, especially toward the poor and vulnerable. This kind of life reflects the character of God. It consists of a broad range of activities, from simple fair and honest dealings with people in daily life, to regular, radically generous giving of your time and resources, to activism that seeks to end particular forms of injustice, violence, and oppression.”
Justice is living generously, giving freely to those in need. This opportunity could present itself through a large platform, but more likely it presents itself in a quiet, everyday manner. It is important that we grow in sensitivity to the needs of those around us, ready to respond in generosity, exemplifying justice in our every day lives.
Justice is Stepping Outside Our Comfort Zones
Far too often, Christians shy away from promoting justice because it is simply uncomfortable. Promoting justice often requires you to put yourself out there, to open yourself up for hurt and rejection. It is important that we boldly following Christ’s example, stepping outside of our comfort zones and close-knit social circles to promote justice in the world around us. Only in doing so will we be able to influence a world built on equality, liberty, and justice for all.
We find lessons of justice heavily scattered throughout Scripture. As Christians, we know that justice is dear to the heart of God. Because of this, it is something that we should seek to actively exemplify in our daily lives.
There are many ways we can promote justice in America. From defending our civil rights to standing up for those who are less fortunate, the opportunities are abundant. We must work to promote a government that is dedicated to ensuring justice for all people, understanding the foundational belief that we are all created in God’s image. By implementing rules for government that will shape America’s future, we can seek to protect the fair and equal treatment of all.
Should the government promote justice in our society? Yes! In fact, ensuring and protecting the fair treatment of all people is one of the primary roles of government. In America, our view on civil rights and the fair treatment of all people is one of the things that makes our country unique! However, although countless rules and regulations exist to curb injustice in our society, it is still a reality.
It is our role as Americans and as Christians to uphold our values of justice. We must promote our civil rights and liberties as we hold fast to the strong Christian foundation on which our country was built. In doing so, we will be doing our part to promote justice in every area of our society.
What is the difference between justice and righteousness? While these two words are often used interchangeably in Scripture, they have two different meanings in our world today. Justice is the act of correcting wrongs and injustice within our world. Righteousness, however, is most commonly described as the act of doing right by all people. Justice and righteousness should go hand-in-hand as we seek to both correct the wrongs that were done by past generations and promote a society where all people groups receive fair and equal treatment.