By David Faust
C. S. Lewis wisely counseled, “Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”
It’s no exaggeration, however, to speak of the Lord as an infinitely just God. He always does what is right. On Judgment Day his perfect justice and grace will prevail. Meanwhile, he wants us to act justly and treat others with fairness and mercy.
The Bible says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8, 9).
Our hearts should stir with righteous indignation when anyone is mistreated. How can we remain passive and disengaged when the weak and vulnerable have no one to protect them? Unborn babies can’t defend themselves. Bullied children need someone to intervene on their behalf. What about hungry orphans, lonely widows, exploited workers, and the elderly? What about persecuted believers whose governments suppress their religious freedom?
The Lord calls us to be fair in our business dealings, trustworthy in keeping the promises we make, faithful in prayer for the suffering, and compassionate toward those who simply need a break. In our personal lives, we must “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24).
In a perfect world everyone would experience America’s idealistic vision of “liberty and justice for all.” In a perfect world we wouldn’t need judges, juries, and jails. But this broken world is a complex and dangerous place, so God has ordained government “to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right” (1 Peter 2:14). That’s why we need wise judges, honest lawyers, courageous political leaders, honorable police officers, and other public servants who will enforce just laws for the common good.
We need a criminal justice system devoid of corruption and unnecessary delays. Ecclesiastes 8:11 observes, “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.”
And we need to care for prisoners, thus serving the One who came to set the captives free (Matthew 25:36; Hebrews 13:3). After all, without God’s grace all of us would be prisoners enslaved by sin (John 8:34-36; Romans 6:13-18).
When Life Is Unjust
On this side of Heaven injustice comes as no surprise.
The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them (Ecclesiastes 9:11, 12).
Life isn’t fair, but God is. Life’s uncertainty isn’t a reason to despair; it’s a reason to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who “entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:21-23). In the long run justice wins out. “Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him” (Ecclesiastes 8:12).
1. What injustice in today’s world do you consider most troubling? Is there anything you can do to correct it?
2. How does it comfort you to know the Lord’s justice will ultimately prevail?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
The Lookout.’s Bible Reading Plan for October 7, 2012
Jeremiah 14, 15
Jeremiah 30, 31