Social Justice and Scripture: Untie the Knot Pt.19

According to Scripture, what is justice? Or what is judgment? (They are often interchangeable.)

Judgment always involves stopping and punishing a wrong-doer. That is the common feature when Scripture speaks of it. If no one stole from another or harmed another, there would be no need for society to provide judgment or justice. The need arises because men initiate force. Someone must judge between conflicting parties to prevent a feud.

Justice and judgment are responses to a negative.

Consider two examples:

The ruler is told to judge righteously (equitably), even on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves:

Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. —Proverbs 31:9

God calls the judges to rule fairly in court and to be willing to hear all lawsuits, not only those of the rich:

Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. —Isaiah 1:17

Justice refers to individuals keeping their own property.

Surely a God who plans to give every man according to his work (Jeremiah 32:19, Revelation 22:12) does not also demand that Christians take from those who produce to give to those who do not. If we seek justice, we should protect individual rights, not “taking away the right” from anyone (Isaiah 10:2).

Though many pastors would discourage American Christians from thinking in terms of “rights,” the Bible does support them.

What about turning the other cheek?

Lest any reader take the teaching of Jesus to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39) as an argument against rights, consider how both Jesus and Paul reacted when their cheeks were struck (John 18:22-23, Acts 23:2-5). Indignation. More than a mere bruise was at issue; the principle of the law had been violated. Jesus and Paul were willing to speak out to condemn those who acted unjustly. Shouldn’t we as Christians also be willing to speak out loudly for the sake of true justice, and shouldn’t we be willing to be known for our stand on this?

To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. —Proverbs 21:3.


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