Pursuing Justice In An Unjust World

God speaks out on justice and fairness.

Justice, justice shalt thou pursue … . (Deuteronomy 16:20.)

We belong to the faithful Judge of all the world, the one we can can trust in his righteous judgment.

Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
    he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples in his faithfulness.(Psalm 96:13.)

What does this mean for us as we see those who are in need of justice, though? Is there anything we can do? Yes, and I am encouraged by the wisdom I find  in the Book of Proverbs.

Every one of us can follow these guides in our daily lives:

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both. (Proverbs 17:15.)

It is not good to punish an innocent man, or to flog officials for their integrity.(Proverbs 17:26.)

It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the innocent of justice. (Proverbs 18:5.)

When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to the evildoers. (Proverbs 21:15.)

Ignorance is no excuse

And then I come to a proverb that encourages, yes, but also causes me to pause and reflect on whether I am truly pursuing justice.

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? (Proverbs 24:11-12.)

If your life is guarded by God, what reason do you have to fear what may happen if you stood up for those who suffer injustices? Frankly, what we should avoid like the plague is doing nothing:

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:17.)

You know the good you ought to do, so remember: the pursuit of justice is God’s pursuit too. Let us then go with God – the one who guards our heart – into this unjust world and pursue his justice with him.


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20 Responses to Pursuing Justice In An Unjust World

  1. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for this post, Tim. The Scriptures we read around Advent encourage us to wait for the One who brings justice. Yet we also have a part in making this happen. May God open our eyes to the opportunities to pursue justice and give us the courage to do it.

  2. janehinrichs says:

    That verse in James is absolutely necessar for all of us.

  3. Aimee Byrd says:

    This is encouraging and motivating.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Aimee. This concept comes up in the courtroom too: “Who knew what and when, and what should they have known and done something about.”

  4. Ruth says:

    Well this is sadly timely.
    I became aware recently, of a financial situation where my very elderly relative has not correctly declared some details. Thankfully they are not to do with tax, but he believes he is doing everything right, and would be horrified to think he had sinned by omission
    He is already struggling to function and losing memory because of a severe fall.
    My quandry; what to do.
    he is very fragile emotionally and may need full time care soon. He often expresses suicidal thoughts and just wants to be with the Lord.
    It is taking constant help from me now to keep him reasonably stable. I think dementia is showing, his memory is getting much worse.
    Perhaps it is not my place to do anything yet, but the above verses and comments leave me floundering and feeling guilty about it.
    I even feel I can’t pray because I know the error, but it will destroy him if ANY stress comes his way….what to do, try to sort it now, or have the intent to fix the muddle later. 😦

    • Tim says:

      I think you are doing the right thing so far by recognizing that there is a problem and doing your best to consider how to deal with it. There’s nothing to feel guilty about in that at all, Ruth. God’s blessing seems to be with you in this already from what I can see.

      • Ruth says:

        Thankyou Tim. Words of comfort indeed.
        I feel led for now to leave things and follow up when necessary after dad is no longer able to suffer emotional stress.
        He believes that his generous giving is what God has led him to do, and his service to God, and why he isnt in Heaven yet.
        He just didnt realise the need to report amounts over a certain figure, neither did I, imagine how he will feel if that is treated negatively by the pension people! He will be utterly devastated and feel so foolish, even wonder if he heard right from God….oh dear……so sad, 85+ is too old for all this.

      • Ruth says:

        Wow Tim, answers arriving by the minute! My brother has taken this over with his accountant, and is going to work through things to show an up tp date honest appraisal of the situation. There will be some things to fix, but now we can go ahead without worrying about how he will cope. Even better, the accountant believes things are not nearly as bad as I imagined. I am still praying this does not have to be addressed until he is further on in the dementia he is sadly showing more signs of…still….I can pray my heart out in peace now! Thankyou for your timely, thoughtful response 🙂

        • Tim says:

          This is wonderful news, Ruth. God has brought help alongside you, and shown you that things can work out much better than you had feared. I pray you continue to see his blessings in all this.

  5. Laura Droege says:

    “If your life is guarded by God, what reason do you have to fear what may happen if you stood up for those who suffer injustices?”

    So often I want to stand up for those who suffer injustices, but I’m afraid that I’ll somehow make things worse by standing up in a “wrong” way. For example, I have problems speaking out on racial injustice. I fear that if I speak up to the other whites around me, that minorities might feel that I’m trying to speak “for” them (as if they can’t speak for themselves, when really we ought to be listening to what many are already saying). But I know so many whites (at my church, for example) that don’t listen at all to minorities and downplay the inequalities in our system, the ones that I’m starting to see more and more. So I feel like I have to speak up, both on this and on gender inequality in the church, but I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong thing! Any advice?

    • Tim says:

      I am in the same dilemma, Laura. If I speak up, I fear I’ll be told to pipe down and just listen. If I fail to speak, I fear I’ll be asked why I remained silent when others are oppressed. I think the answer is to pray for guidance and follow the leading of the Spirit. Then if anyone criticizes you for speaking or not speaking they are really criticizing the Spirit and not you.

      • Laura Droege says:

        Thanks for the advice, Tim. I appreciate it.

      • I feel this same tension. I think–I want to be advocate, be a voice for the voiceless. I am trying to figure out how to do this without coming in as a “white knight” or somehow implying that I know more than I do–it is a confusing situation. And wow, doesn’t this whole thing coming at a time of year when we can claim to be “so busy” make it easy for good people to do nothing? I’m really wrestling with it. I’m trying to seek out wisdom from people who understand the situation better than I do.

  6. Pastor Bob says:

    I see more than one line reasoning to follow here:
    1) Pick your battles carefully, what do you respond to and how.
    2) That which is YOUR responsibility, you must act (when and how — pray of not sure)
    —- corollary, if the shoe does not fit, leave it alone.
    — your actions, if not your concern may make it worse
    — if in doubt, ask a human involved (need help with _____)
    3) Big one, recognize when most actions are useless. (Do not yell at the political mess, the TV, or the football team)
    4) Pray for all things (we do do that, right?)

    The most useful thing to do is PRAY! If you are in touch with Him, He will be to clearly tell you what do without you asking.

    • Tim says:

      Those are excellent, PB. And another way I’ve heard that point about not getting involved in some things is “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Some things are really not our fight.

      • Pastor Bob says:

        Within a few minutes of your response post, my sister used the same phrase. She is not a believer, so God may trying to share something important.

        • Tim says:

          I wonder how she’d respond if you told her of that coincidence, and then mention that this type of coincidence might actually be evidence of God working in people’s lives.

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