Kitchen Table Conversation: Justice

What is justice

And what it isn’t

“Here is My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved, in whom I take great delight. I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will proclaim justice to the nations.” Matthew 12:18 (Isaiah 42:1-2)

justice.2

According to Dictionary.com:

Justice: the quality of being just

Just: guided by truth, reason and impartiality

Justice has nothing to do with punishment. It has nothing to do with anger or revenge.

Oh – to the world it means punishment. To the world it means anger and revenge. But aren’t we supposed to be different than the world? In it, but not of it?

So what does that mean, and what did Jesus say about justice?

Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect the more important aspects of the lawjustice, mercy, and faithfulness! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23 emphasis mine)

Jesus talked about why an ‘eye for an eye,’ and ‘hate your enemy,’ doesn’t work if you are born again. (Matthew 5:38-39; Matthew 5:43-44) He told us why punishment doesn’t work if you are born again. (Matthew 9:13)

Jesus didn’t make up these concepts out of thin air. He was correctly interpreting God’s Word for his followers and the teachers of religious law. He let them know the way they had been interpreting the Word of God for all those years had been wrong; they had used God Word to shame, exclude and punish people instead of grant grace and mercy.

Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. The foreigner who resides with you must be to you like a native citizen among you; so you must love him as yourself, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34, emphasis mine)

When Christians show bias toward groups of people, point fingers at them, accuse them of being evil, tell them they are going to hell, we can no longer rationalize this behavior as just and right. This behavior is not guided by truth, reason and impartiality. This behavior is not led by the Holy Spirit. This behavior does not lead people toward Jesus.

Learn to do what is right.
Seek justice.
Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows. (Isaiah 1:17)

He will give justice to the poor
and make fair decisions for the exploited. (Isaiah 11:4)

The Lord longs to be gracious and merciful to you.
He rises to have compassion on you.
The Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all those who long for him. (Isaiah 30:18)

Our denomination doesn’t matter; our political affiliation doesn’t matter. Our accomplishments don’t matter. To truly show justice, we must surrender our own wants, our own agendas, our own rights to God’s. We must pray to make His desires our desires.

We must open our hearts and minds to receive His unceasing gift of unconditional love, scandalous grace and outrageous forgiveness. Until we allow ourselves to accept His unrelenting and lavish love, grace and forgiveness, we are unprepared to give away the overflow to those around us.

It is in the giving away of love, grace and forgiveness we show justice. It is in the unbiased, compassionate offering of love, grace and forgiveness we allow ourselves to be guided by truth, reason and impartiality. It is as we bestow love, grace and forgiveness, no matter who the recipient, we begin to see the beneficiary through the eyes of Jesus.

15 thoughts on “Kitchen Table Conversation: Justice

  1. “Oh – to the world it means punishment. To the world it means anger and revenge. But aren’t we supposed to be different than the world? In it, but not of it?”

    Amen and amen! I’m so glad you brought this out, Susan. Contrary to popular Christian opinion, God’s justice is not about punishing the guilty. It was always about restoring the guilty (sadly, not all receive the invitation to be restored). Restorative justice is vastly superior of punitive justice. It heals both the perpetrator and the victim. Love is infinitely more effective than revenge. Punitive justice cannot be an attribute of God because it ultimately leads to injustice (perfect stainless steel execution of punishment is legalism without love). It’s fallen man’s thinking, hiding in the bushes from God’s love, living in fear and separation. Jesus was about restorative justice, we should be about the same thing as believers.

    Great insights and admonition to us all to be more like Jesus. You hit a home run here in my book. 🙂 Blessings.

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    • Thank you, Mel. This means so much coming from you.

      “”It was always about restoring the guilty (sadly, not all receive the invitation to be restored).” Your entire conversation here, and this comment in particular, points out where we’ve gone astray. “Legalism without love” has become the standard. We need to get back to restorative justice – it’s what God had in mind all along for all of us.
      “And God so loved the world he sent His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “They had used God Word to shame, exclude and punish people instead of grant grace and mercy.”
    “It is in the giving away of love, grace and forgiveness we show justice. It is in the unbiased, compassionate offering of love, grace and forgiveness we allow ourselves to be guided by truth, reason and impartiality.”

    Sister Susan, I always love to read your take, no matter the subject. You are truly a giver of mercy and love and it is so evident! In all the years that I was privileged to teach from the pulpit, believe it or not, I never once preached or taught on hell as a subject in and of itself. I would mention it in conjunction with eternal choices, but not to condemn someone there. I always agreed with that old saying that says, “you can attract more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.”

    This doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion about eternal punishment, but rather I have tried to look at not just what Jesus taught, but also His examples in teaching. He was all about love, mercy, grace and righteousness. He taught in the positive and throughout the WHOLE Bible we can see God’s perspective on right and wrong. I love to use the Scriptures in 2 Chronicles 7:13-15, to make my point, “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.”

    When our Heavenly Father has to deal justly with a disobedient people, He ALWAYS leaves them a positive outcome. “If my people are suffering because of their disobedience I WILL hear their prayers if they repent and seek me where I am.” He is always just, to forgive, to raise up and the example is in the Scriptures over and over again! How then can we be condemning? Especially without offering the Hope and Mercy and Grace and the Forgiveness given to each of us so freely!

    I came from a Pentecostal background from about 17 years old until in my early 30’s and the one thing that was a common thread was hellfire and brimstone, scare the hell out of the congregation! I always felt unease at that type of teaching and never employed it. I was often criticized for preaching too much on love! God IS love, how can you teach too much on that??

    Anyway Sis, you brought some memories back but also gratefulness for the graciousness of the Holy Spirit! Thanks so much FOR your love and mercy you share with us all! God bless!!

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    • ” I was often criticized for preaching too much on love!” May it never be, Roland!
      There is too much division in the world over “what you believe vs. what I believe.” Too much, “I am right and you are wrong.” Too much killing based on “judgment and justice.”

      Love, grace, forgiveness and mercy has to start with me. In the U.S. In Ireland. In Israel. In Afghanistan. In Africa. In Korea. In India.

      Thank you so very much for your contribution to the conversation.

      Like

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