Woe to those who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent. - Isaiah 5:22,23 (NIV)
With the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. - Matthew 7:2
Two-year reading texts: Psalm 145:17-21; 2 Kings 19:1-28; Acts 5:41-6:7
Fairness, justice, and equality are the themes that are obvious to me in today's scriptures. Jesus' words from Matthew 7 also set those themes in the larger context of Christian life. This is part of the "Sermon on the Mount," three whole chapters of Jesus teaching about what it means to live a life centered around God. A few verses of this material touch directly on judging and justice. But the whole sermon teaches us to live according to God's way of life, not the world's.
I'm also struck today by the simple reliance on God, even in really difficult circumstances, found in Psalm 145:17-20:
The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.Clearly, justice - and everything we need for God's way of life - originate with God's nature and God's power.
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them.
The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
The other scriptures, from 2 Kings 19 and Acts 5, are separate stories that each show a resolution of a conflict by God's power. King Hezekiah literally lays out the threat against him, and prays:
"O LORD the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see ... Save us, I pray you ... so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone." - 2 Kings 19:15-19And the verse that I previewed and marveled at yesterday, with the following verse:
They rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah. - Acts 5:41-42Seeking God's justice and righteousness is a whole-life effort, which comes with real risk and cost. But over and over again, the Bible testifies that pursuing God's way, even at this cost, is the most excellent way.
Last night, I launched a new blog that will focus on justice and righteousness as I see it (or don't see it) in our political system. There are some risks in doing that. There is also the risk that I might get too self-righteous and caught up in my own biases and opinions. The answer to all these risks - and any others - is to keep rooted in God's word and in prayer, turning always to God's justice and righteousness as my foundation.
That is my prayer for myself, for all who are touched by what I say or do or write, and for our nation as a whole. Through faith and by following God, the way will be prepared for "all the kingdoms of the earth" to know God and God's ways.