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February 5 – Justice

“Blind Justice” is often seen in courtrooms. Blindfolded and holding scales, her image is a reminder that justice is supposed to deal fairly and impartially with all people. In America, we say we believe in justice, and yet, we haven’t always had justice for all people. One of the most tireless workers for justice was Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. He fought, non-violently, for justice for all people. During his time, justice peeked out from under her blindfold and put her thumb on the scale, giving black people the wrong end of the deal. As Dr. King worked for justice he faced dogs and water cannons. He was abused and arrested. Still, he remained non-violent and he fought for justice. When he sat in a Birmingham jail, he wrote a letter about the struggle for equal rights for all. In that letter, he reminded us that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

As Dr. King fought for justice, he often used quotations from the Old Testament. He did that because he recognized that justice ultimately came from God. While he worked to establish justice politically, he knew that it had to be rooted in the hearts and minds of people. If justice is only obtained politically, it can be taken away politically. People’s hearts and minds needed to embrace justice. King David understood that idea. He wrote often about God’s justice. At the same time, he needed God’s mercy. Mercy and justice go hand in hand. Righteousness and justice also go hand in hand. “Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.” (Psalm 36:6)

Our world still needs to learn justice. We speak often about justice, but we don’t live it. We expect the courts to do our bidding without taking into account the impartial treatment that justice calls for. In some cases, it’s almost as if justice is used to exact vengeance on another person. When we seek a justice that promotes truth and fair treatment for all, we are acting in God’s will. Often though, our so -called justice system works to preserve the privileges of some by denying the rights of others. It is a sad commentary that the saying “The rich can always buy justice” is more of an observation, than it is a joke. The reason for that is that righteousness and justice go hand in hand. You cannot wring justice from an unjust person. Justice is an outgrowth of righteousness. I understand that the Bible reminds us that no one is righteous before God, but all who come to Him through Jesus Christ are granted righteousness in His eyes.

I know it’s not a popular American stand, to say that righteousness, and thus justice, comes because of a relationship with Jesus Christ. Not all people who claim that relationship appear to demonstrate that righteousness. And, we would probably have some debates about who is showing God’s righteousness in their lives. That being said, righteousness and justice should be characteristics of the person who claims to follow Jesus. When you add in mercy, another quality that God exhibits and should be exhibited by God’s people, you are closer to establishing a society where justice rolls down like water and all people are treated equally. There’s always a problem with any of this, though. Much as I would like YOU to live that way, the truth is that I have to work with God so that He will work those qualities in me.

Lord, I pray for my country, that we might always be a just, righteous, and merciful country. I pray for myself that I might always show that to others.

Daily Devotion by Bob James


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