Monday, May 18, 2009


And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

As an employee and leader employed by a faith-based corporation that isn't strictly aligned with my own personal beliefs, I sometimes feel like I get an added struggle to my faith journey. For instance, during leadership training, the religious leaders of my organization have made a clear statement that justice and fairness are very different ideals. God requires justice; and justice will not necessarily be fair.

For early childhood, we know that life isn't always fair: Sometimes your sister gets the piece of cake with more frosting. Or your have to go to grandma's house over the weekend and miss a friend's birthday party. Or a loved one passes away unexpectedly. Or would-be perfect parents suffer another tragic loss. We all experience things that simply aren't fair, and we struggle to accept the idea that life isn't always fair.

Is it always just, though?

Criminals get away with murder on technicalities. Huge corporations get away with slave labor in third world countries. Natural disasters kills tens or hundreds of thousands and destroy millions of lives. Surely, there's no justice there.

What is it we're looking for in justice?

Maybe justice or injustice isn't something that is done TO anyone, but rather a characteristic of how someone chooses to behave. The text actually says that we're to ACT justly - it doesn't say seek justice or make sure others are treated justly - ACT justly.

Whose justice are we talking about?

Perhaps my definition of justice is too human and, therefore, too close to fairness. God's judgment, perhaps is the one to consider. God's judgment would be based on the things that we do in accordance with God's laws rather than human laws. I think that definition of justice would hold all of us to too low a standard.

What does it mean to act justly?
Love your God with all your heart, and soul, and mind.
Love thy neighbor as yourself.


Sarahlynn said...

Funny thing. I actually learned the verse (and song) with "seek," rather than "act."

"What does the Lord require of you? To seek justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with your God."

Changing the one word makes for an interesting difference!

Jodie said...

Plato said that justice is "that to which each man is due". A strong sense of fairness there.

The old testament seems to suggest that justice is giving each person an equal share of what life has to offer. Which is why it was so important to care for the widows and the orphans, and to leave leftovers on the fields and pay back that which was stolen. Also a strong sense of fairness.

Our modern sense of justice is to insure that each person is given an equal >>opportunity<< to receive the good that life has to offer. Leaves room for unfairness. Life, liberty and the pursuit (not necessarily the achievement) of happiness.

(Or was that 'private property'?)

It seems our sense of justice has been modified to make room for capitalism.

I feel that to do justice in the biblical sense must be to give each person their fair share. But to love kindness (or 'mercy' depending on the translation) is to give them more than their fair share. And to walk humbly is to recognize that God gives us much more than our fair share, and that it is in gratitude that we must do justice and love mercy.

After all, the Lord gives and the Lord also can take away.