It is an easy thing to demand justice. People want justice. Watch the news, listen to the candidates, listen to your three-year-old — justice matters. But it is wise to be careful of what you ask for. Yes, you want justice, but do you really want justice for yourself? Do you cry out for God to deal with you as your sins deserve with the same intensity that you demand justice from others? Whose justice are we talking about? Does your three-year-old offer an unbiased perspective on justice? Of course, the candidates and the media don’t appear to be any more balanced in their understanding of justice than your unhappy toddler. Similar to Pilate’s question to Jesus, we ask:
What is justice?
Justice is not determined by soundbites, clever memes, by passionate personal conviction or by the views of a political party. The cry for justice fuels unrest and often ends in violence. In the name of justice much harm occurs — both at home and in the streets. Toddlers, teenagers and spouses all want justice. But whose justice do you want? Do you want to demand that people conform to your understanding of what is just? Do you want to live in a world where popular opinion determines justice? Or do you have the courage to pursue what God says is justice?
If it is your justice you demand of those you encounter in this life, you will have no peace, no resolution, no satisfaction. Why? Because very few will agree with you!
There is only one way to truly pursue justice. In getting Wisdom! Ruth Younts defined justice this way: “Justice is measuring everything by God’s law, to know and do what is right.“
This definition is not exactly what people want when they cry out for justice. Typically, justice is measured by what is personally offensive instead of using the law of God as the standard. But God’s justice is the only justice that can be trusted to be accurate and truly just. Long ago, Micah spoke the rightness of God’s justice:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Pursue God’s justice. When you are driven by a need to make things right, search your heart. Whose justice do you seek? Humble yourself before God and seek his justice. The pursuit of your justice will only bring bitterness and destroy your relationships with those you love most. Follow God’s justice and know his peace.
Here is a prayer to orient your heart to want and live out God’s just ways:
Father, you are perfectly right in everything you do. Thank you that Jesus was perfectly right and just for me. Help me to act with justice and to walk faithfully in your ways. Help me to love your law and your righteousness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.