How many of you have ever had to referee verbal squabbling between two children hurling slaps back and forth regarding fairness and justice. You hear it all the time – “That’s not fair! He took the last cookie,” or “That’s not fair – she went first last time,” etc. It’s noteworthy that even little children seem to have a built-in sense of fairness and justice!
The Hebrew word for “justice” shows up in numerous ways more than 200 times in the Old Testament alone. Basically, it calls on us to treat people fairly and without bias. Justice means either excusing or punishing people only on the merits of the case, regardless of race, religion, or social status. The same infraction merits the same penalty – that’s justice. Does that sound like what’s going on in today’s society?
It reminds me of an incident a German tourist had while staying at a hotel in Miami. His first night there in his room, he noticed a terrible odor, but just chalked it up to new surroundings. Waking up the following morning, he noticed the foul odor was even worse. He checked out of the hotel later that day and made sure to report the problem to the front desk. Eventually, a maid, cleaning the room, discovered the origin of the wretched smell – under the bed she found a dead body.
This is how things seem to be in the United States right now – we have a dead body under the bed and it’s stinking things up! It’s called “injustice!” When I look at Lady Justice – the blindfolded statue holding scales in one hand and a sword in the other, it’s plain to see that we have moved far away from all she embodies.
Her scales of balance represent impartiality and the obligation of the law to weigh the evidence fairly, while her sword symbolizes justice and law enforcement – being able to back up a fair decision. Then there’s that curious blindfold — how cool is that?! The meaning? Justice should be rendered “without passion or prejudice.” Only the facts of a case are to be considered. Does any of this sound like our justice system as it operates today in so many of our cities? I think not.
So, how does this stack up with Biblical scripture? Check out Proverbs 21:15: “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” Is our justice system bringing terror to evildoers? Unfortunately, many times it’s just the opposite – innocent people are the ones often living in terror. As the writer of Leviticus 19:15 penned, “Don’t pervert justice. Don’t show favoritism to either the poor or the great. Judge on the basis of what is right.”
When justice is delivered through government programs, let’s face it – there are problems. Instead of individuals deciding where to direct their hard-earned money – charities, churches, and social causes – the government takes our money and they decide where it goes, advancing many causes that Christ-followers would not otherwise fund. This brings an automatic tension between a God-centered approach to justice and a man-centered approach to justice. However, I am personally encouraged that more and more God-fearing citizens are stepping up to the plate to fight for Godly values. I believe, in the end, it may well turn out that “what Satan meant for evil God will use for good.”
Check this out – back in the day, farmers in Alabama planted cotton every year – their crop of choice. Then one year the dreaded boll weevil came through and devastated their crops. The farmers planted cotton again the following year with the same results – the boll weevils once more annihilated their crops. The third-year the farmers decided to experiment with an alternative crop — peanuts. And guess what? The peanuts proved to be so sturdy and the market so good for this product, that the farmers prospered “over and above” anything they could have imagined and paid off all their past debts. Peanuts were now their crop of choice! Then – to celebrate their good fortune, they constructed a monument to the boll weevil in the town square! The very thing that was meant for evil turned out for their good.
I believe our current issues with justice in America will turn in favor of “true justice” for all, regardless of race, religion, color, or convictions. Truly, “…one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” — Bob and Susan Beckett pastor The Dwelling Place City Church at 27100 Girard Street in Hemet, Ca. For more information, you can contact them at DPCity Church.org
Susan Beckett • The Dwelling Place City Church
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