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Pulpit Reflections
Justice is just another virtue PDF Print E-mail

Life isn’t fair! Maybe someone gets a raise at work when you don’t. Maybe your little sister gets a special treat from Mom while you’re stuck with spinach. You might come down with a life threatening illness while your neighbor seems healthy all the time. In those times life seems unfair, or unjust.
Justice is the second of the cardinal virtues. We often think of justice as having to do with the courts.
A victim of a crime, for example, receives justice when the criminal is punished. Sometimes we might hear the phrase ‘social justice’ as well.
The Bible has a very broad definition of justice: it means giving a person what is due to them.
Part of that is the idea of fairness in court. For example, Leviticus 19:15 says, “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” So we are to be fair, giving no one an advantage because of their wealth or poverty.
The rules should be the same no matter who you are – that is justice.
Justice in the court also means we acquit the innocent and punish the guilty, but only in ways that are equal to the crime.
Biblical justice does extend beyond the law court. Deuteronomy 18:3 tells us that the priests of the temple are ‘due’ a portion of the sacrifice.
To withhold that is unjust. In the same way James 5:1-4 says that the just thing to do is to give workers the wages they are due.
James 2:1-4 points out a situation where the rich and poor are treated differently in church – one is given proper respect and the other is not. Justice demands that we pay proper wages and proper respect.
Justice in the Bible is also about how we treat the downtrodden or less fortunate.
God is very much opposed to people or institutions that, for example, keep the poor in poverty.
Slavery, racism, and systemic poverty in many places are all examples of unjust systems that need to be removed from our world.
Biblical justice demands that we treat others fairly, with respect, and giving them what is due.
Perhaps we do not treat everyone exactly the same way, but we are always fair in our treatment of others.
And we are expected to speak up for those who are powerless in the face of injustice.
“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31: 8-9) In that way we obey God’s command to live justly. (Micah 6:8)