Justice

When we’ve been wronged, or we see things that are disturbing because of their cruelty; what do we want? ~ Justice. 

When we’ve done something wrong; when we know that we have wronged someone; what do we want? Justice? ~ No. We want mercy.

What do mobs cry out for? ~ Justice. As mobs get violent; smashing windows, burning cars, throwing rocks, or worse ~ Do you believe that anyone in that crowd wants to receive justice?

What makes us so quick to demand something so righteous, when we are not prepared to receive it ourselves?  

Is it just to expect to purchase clothing or other personal items at exceptionally affordable prices, if it requires child labour to produce it?

Whether you like Trump’s policies or hate them, he has exposed the underbelly of the beast. He has released the thoughts of the masses that had been spoken only in private and given them permission to be shouted from the rooftops ~ without thought of the implications. 

Hate crimes increased 5% last year in Canada. I strongly suspect that the perpetrators of those crimes thought they were enacting some form of justice. “This is our country. Not your country. Go back to where you belong. You don’t have the right to bring your culture here and violate our traditions.” In the process of demanding rights, they ignored rights.

You will know how strongly you embrace this concept of justice by your conviction of having it applied to yourself. Are you as anxious to receive justice as you are to have it meted out to others?

Have you ever received a speeding ticket for driving 5 kilometres over the speed limit? (That's about 3 mph.) Have you ever received a ticket for not stopping at the stop sign by railway tracks when you could clearly see there was no train? When the police pulled you over and gave you that $80 ticket, did it feel just?

Was it just? ~ Yes. Justice is based on law. If a law is broken, justice says it should be enforced. Justice does not do well when left by itself. Strict justice actually undermines mercy and compassion. You’ve heard the expression about the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. 

I’ve grown up with a deep sense of fairness. If something isn’t fair I would often speak up: “But that’s not fair. That’s not right.” Often it had something to do with the strictness in which issue was being dealt with. It seemed that the consequence was far more severe than the infraction deserved. It happens all the time today. Insurance policies that led you to believe you have coverage for certain types of damages and then when something goes wrong you are shown the fine print. Or job promotions where you see one person advanced because they were able to manipulate the system and more qualified people were overlooked. Or the wage disparity between men and women, or between entry level jobs and management. 

What do you do when you see racism being played out in front of you? Whether it is white to brown or brown to white; whether it’s with First Nations or middle Eastern? The point is, we live in a society that strives to live within the parameters of justice but has failed to grasp that justice alone does not produce a health society. 

What’s missing?

8“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)

That word love is an interesting Hebrew word. (Pronounced “ah ha-va”) Ah ha-va is the love between people. It’s the word God uses to describe his love for us. In the story of Jacob’s love for Rachel; we’re told Jacob had to give 7 years of his life working for Rachel’s father in order to marry her. 

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love (ah ha-va) he had to her.  Genesis 29:20

Then you have the word “mercy.” It’s one of my favourite Biblical words. We don’t have a word in English that captures the extent of the meaning of “checed.” It’s a rich word that ministers to your whole being and speaks of your total wellbeing. Ah ha-va checed" ~ love mercy. Put those two Hebrew words together and what are you hearing? People are so precious to you that it’s nothing to pour out blessing and well-being onto them.  Act justly, while you love mercy…

Jesus said, 23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, (mercy and faithfulness) without neglecting the former (justice). 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” Matthew 23:23

8“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)

Let’s take a look at the word “humbly”. It’s only used one other time in the Old Testament. 

Proverbs 11:2(NIV)  “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

“Walk humbly with your God.” In other words, bring along with you a posture of humility. It’s okay to be modest and humble. It’s okay to remember who it is that you’re with. You are walking with God. Recognize your limitations. The word for God here is “eloheem” ~ the plural noun for God. You walk with the Trinity. You both demonstrate them in how you conduct yourself and represent them when you hold justice and mercy in tension. It’s humbling to be God’s representative in the face of societal justice.  

“People who fight for the applause of others don’t know their own identity. When significance is discovered, there is no position too low.” (Bill Johnson)

Have you done things that have been unkind? Are you in a place where you deserve justice to been placed upon you? Are there people in your life who you are resentful towards because they have been unjust to you? Are you able to both receive mercy for yourself and extend mercy to others. “I owe everyone a measure of respect because they are made in the image of God. In serving people well, I have to see the value God places in every person.” (Bill Johnson) It requires a humbling of ourselves.  Justice and mercy are not possible without humility. 

It is good to pause and ask Holy Spirit who you need to forgive. It is also good to look at the relationships in your life. Is there someone you have treated unfairly? This is the day to make things right.

I have a riddle for you. 

What does everyone want to have, yet no one wants to receive? 

Justice

Justice