The Way of the Just

I confess to a gut reaction that goes towards retribution when I hear of crimes like the one in Idaho where a man murdered four beautiful students in their sleep.  I don’t want to hear some excuse or ‘reason’ for what he did, I want him locked up forever, punished to the full extent of the law. That feels like ‘justice.’  Really, that is less about being just and more about vengeance, an impulse to ‘make him pay!’  We all claim to love justice until it is our son or brother, then we want mercy.

Jesus says that His disciples are called to a new way, not of blind justice expressed in the Law – ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,’ but of giving God time to bring about perfect justice.

“God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice,
for they will receive it in full.
God blesses those who are merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.”
(Matthew 5:6-7, NLT)

Because we know that God is just, we are to be people who seek justice but that is not the natural way. We love our privileges, hold onto power tenaciously, and often twist justice to favor those who are ‘us’ in ways about which we are unaware.
Do you deeply desire justice in the world, like you desire food and drink?
Do you want to see discrimination erased, opportunity made available to all?
Do you advocate for those without resources or influence? 
God calls us to humility, to serve others, to give away ourselves so that others are able to flourish and know love. That is why Jesus connects justice and mercy! 

Mercy is also the heart of our Father. The Psalmist sings that “The Lord is merciful and gracious; he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does he deal with us as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.” (Psalm 103:8-11, NLT)  Given mercy, we are to be merciful.

The uniqueness of our Christian hope is found in the balance of God’s mercy and justice. He does not ignore our sin or pretend we have an excuse so that He can show us mercy. He entered the Creation, became fully Man in the mystery of the Incarnation, and became the final sacrifice for sin so that His mercy was available to the undeserving who would trust Him for salvation.  In His death on the Cross, Jesus shows us God’s righteousness.  

The Cross is a vivid reminder of God’s justice. Paul says: “All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:24–26)

Dear friend, believe what Jesus teaches us – that true happiness, the deepest blessings of God, come to those who love justice and give mercy.  It is not one at the expense of the other, but both! Loving justice will mean that we, like our Father, are willing to bear the burden of another’s sin. We will be forgiving, we will be gentle, and own the blessings of our Father.

Here is a word from the Word. It is lengthy. Take time to contemplate the rich truth of the passage. It is a call, a challenge, a path to peace.
“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible.

Dear friends, never avenge yourselves.
Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord.

Instead, do what the Scriptures say:
“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink,
and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.”
Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.
(Romans 12:17-21, NLT)

(Video of this blog at this link)

_______________

God Of Justice

God of Justice Savior to all
Came to rescue the weak and the poor
Chose to serve and not be served
Jesus You have called us
Freely we’ve received
Now freely we will give

We must go
Live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken
We must go
Stepping forward
Keep us from just singing
Move us into action
We must go

To act justly every day
Loving mercy in every way
Walking humbly before You God
You have shown us what You require
Freely we’ve received
Now freely we will give

Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out Lord

Tim Hughes © 2004 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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