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To continue our journey on what is just, let’s look at how our world views the subject of justice. Our dictionary, from 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.” It basically says:

  • Justice is work, a job that we all must subscribe to. It is to administer or maintain fairness.
  • Justice is to be impartial. That means the bias from politics, media, the powerful (wealthy) should not be part of the process.
  • Justice is about conflicting claims. It begins with at least two sides, both with differing views. The job of justice is to reconcile the truth, or better yet, wrestle the truth from a myriad of facts and fiction.
  • The final goal of justice is to reward the righteous and punish the wicked.

Our world is very good at creating conflicting claims. Each side seeks the distribution of rewards or punishment with prejudice. How then do we set about resolving the conflicting claims of our society? God began His creation by dignifying us with free will, the power to make decisions on our own. Rather than having God or fate predetermine what we do, as a human race we are free to assess and decide what is a just course of action when faced with conflicts. 

(Genesis 1:26) 1 – Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

Unlike animals, which act mainly on instinct, humans were created to resemble their Creator. This is where true justice begins. God has in His character the infinite capacity for love and fairness. Humans, created in God’s likeness, were given a similar power to rule with love. Humans were also given the power to rule over God’s world.  Like our Creator, we have the free will to impact our future. More frightening is that we have the free will to impact the future of others too.

(Deuteronomy 30:19-20) – “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Justice is always about choosing sides. Matthew tells us that free will is a precious gift from God. Because of that gift, we are each called to first love God with our “whole heart” (Matthew 22:37). Without free will, our freedom is meaningless. Yet, the many “conflicting claims,” create a constant necessity for hard choices. As examples:

  • Is it ever OK to allow violence and crime to exist under a definition of fairness?
  • How should God’s Laws and Truths affect fairness and justice?
  • Can justice ever exist without accountability for the wicked?
  • What is fair reconciliation between a victim and a law breaker?
  • Can our world force a just free will on society?

(Jeremiah 17:10) – “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

(Psalm 33:5) – “The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”

All justice must begin by first understanding God’s virtuous character. Society must align its own values to those of God. God tried to give us simple rules, ten to be exact. Grace, or the free gift of grace, provided humanity with three theological virtues. Theological virtues are the God-like characteristics of charity, faith and hope.  (See our comprehensive study on these and other virtues Here) A person receives the theological virtues by being “infused” through God’s grace into a new person. Charity, faith and hope cannot be forced upon the free will of any society. Without God, there can be no charity, faith, or hope. Without God, there can never be justice.

“Because they have God for their object, both in so far as by them we are properly directed to Him, and because they are infused into our souls by God alone, as also, finally, because we come to know of them only by Divine revelation in the Sacred Scriptures” – Aquinas.

The farther a society moves from God, the farther it moves from its ability to maintain or administer fair and equitable justice. This may be subtle, but God has clearly created humans NOT to respond to forced justice but, instead, to respond to the force of God’s justice. Justice is important because the act of upholding good and punishing evil is necessary for having a safe society that is dedicated to the benefit of all people (Dictionary.com). When justice is not upheld, those doing wrong will continue to do wrong, while those who are doing right will continue to suffer. Justice is important because every person will not choose what is deemed right in society. Since justice includes the punishment of the wrong and the upholding of the good, justice must be implemented to maintain what is deemed right or appropriate. Conflicting claims must always be reconciled but against whose standards and truths?

God’s Truth along with accountability are the correct foundation for any system of fair justice. Success or failure should never be determined by fate, wealth, or power. Successful justice requires hard work. Impartiality requires unbiased concern for each other. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. How did we get here? Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, our laws have become needlessly complex. They are often clouded by politics and influenced by money. For example, in the Biblical justice system a false witness received punishment, but in the American justice system slander, defamation, and character assassination is not only NOT punished, it is often rewarded. Yet, God’s Truth has not changed since our earth was created by His command. The problem with humanity is with the heart, not the scales of justice!

(John 13:34) – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Jesus was always clear about how to treat one another. Just look and read the parable about the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Love is intended to comfort the victims of our world. Love is also intended to uphold God’s Law for those who need to be held accountable for their actions. Jesus came for all those in need of repentance, restoration. and renewal. A library of law books will never save a single soul. A virtuous population seeking God will make all the difference in this world.

Contemplations

  • What do you think about the justice system in our country?
    • Ideas to Explore: Are we too soft on criminals? Is incarceration a reasonable deterrent? What is missing from our educational system? Is punishment without repentance of any value?
  • What should society do with repeat offenders?
    • Ideas to Explore: Should there be a limit to society’s tolerance for crime? Are there crimes that are a result of societal problems?  Are there people who cannot be rehabilitated? If so, why?
  • God is missing from schools and homes. Do we need to bring Him back?
    • Ideas to Explore: How do we teach God’s Truth to a nation? How do we raise children to honor God and family?
  • Can government force people to be generous and forgiving?
    • Ideas to Explore: Can the government spend your money better than you can? How do you increase Charity, Faith, and Hope?
  • Where is society still teaching bias, bigotry and divisiveness?
    • Ideas to Explore: In the home? In schools? Our government?  Where else? How would you change it?
  • How would you remove bias from our judicial system?
    • Ideas to Explore: Media’s influence? Influence from Politics? Money, do wealthy have an advantage? Why?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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