Devotion for Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Yesterday, we discussed how the Lord desires for us to be people of action, rather than just focusing on church attendance and ceremony. Micah 6:8 provides a great summary, bottom line statement of what God requires of His people. God calls us to “do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” What does it mean to “do justice?”
This is a charged question. The nation is asking this question this week, as we are reeling from another police shooting, this time the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. What is the truth of that situation? What happened? This is an ongoing event and the investigators are just now sifting through the facts to make sense of what actually occured. The video released through social media is disturbing, and causing riots and many celebrity voices to cry out, “We want justice!” What is the nature of the justice that will satisfy? We all definitely want evil to be punished. But we have been living through very difficult year where justice and peace have become moving targets. The cries for justice to be served have spawned peaceful protest in many areas of the country, while turning into violent riots in others, causing property damage and threatening the safety of residents. Many of us are asking, “When will this all stop?”, as protesters are crying out, “No justice, no peace.”
God calls His people to seek justice as a central focus of the Christian life. That being said, it is vital for God’s people to seek the justice that honors the Lord. Godly justice in no way mirrors the kind of justice found in popular culture, television, and the movies. If oppression, injustice, or evil befalls someone in a movie, the honorable thing to do is to seek vengeance. Movies that portray the protagonist doling out revenge on all those who had wronged him or her often earn a successful haul at the box office. The human condition desires a justice on this earth where those perceived to be evil are punished, and those perceived to be innocent are avenged. The truth of the matter is, however, that this is not always the case. The world is full of injustice, oppression, and violence that simply cannot be fully eradicated by human wisdom, the criminal justice system, political revolution, or economic class restructuring. Often, a civilization’s desire and effort to eradicate one form of oppression leads to new, unforeseen corruption. The Bible teaches us, however, that lasting justice and peace only come through the redemptive, reconciling work of the Gospel.
The Bible clearly identifies the type of justice that pleases and glorifies the Lord in Heaven. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Jeremiah 22:3 states, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also, do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” Moses declared that the Lord, “executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.” (Deuteronomy 10:18) Jesus calls us to look after those who are in need, “Truly I say to you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you have done to me.” (Matthew 25:40) Finally, James echoes the words of Deuteronomy when he says, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)
What should be the response of the Christian to the tsunami of oppression and injustice that has flooded the history of humanity and the current events that befall us? I am sure that you have heard the song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” Usually sung at Christmas, this has an important message for us. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” Friend, let there be God’s justice on the earth – AND LET IT BEGIN WITH YOU AND ME! Let us devote our efforts to lift up the fatherless, care for the widows, and show love to those who do not look like us or act like us. For that is the justice that God wants to roll down like waters like an ever-flowing stream.
Oh, and never forget, God’s righteous judgment demands punishment and wrath against sin. Our thoughts, actions, and natures condemned us in our sin. But those who have trusted in God’s redemption story have been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11). God’s justice was satisfied in His agape love toward us, sending His own Son to stand in our place so that we might be restored to Him. Oh the marvel of God’s love and salvation! Remember, dear friend, God’s justice always leads to reconciliation, restoration, and a helping hand. Wouldn’t you agree that this world needs more of God’s brand of justice?
Pastor, First Baptist Church Sharon, TN