What is justice?

Posted on · Posted in Wisdom

People want justice. Watch the news, listen to the candidates, listen to your three-year-old — justice matters. But 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. Like Pilate’s question to Jesus, we ask, “what is justice?”

Justice cannot be determined by soundbites or clever ads or by passionate personal pleas. 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 what you think is just? Or do you have the courage to learn what God calls justice? If it is your justice you crave no peace, no resolution will come.

There is only one way to truly pursue justice. In Get Wisdom! Ruth Younts defined justice this way: “Justice is measuring everything by God’s law, to know and do what is right.“

This is what the Prophet Micah says about how to know what justice is:

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?

Purse 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. Your idea of justice will only bring bitterness and destroy your relationships with those you love most.

Here is a prayer to orient your heart to want 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.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.