Intermediate Edition

I.  Justice in Action


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Chapter 32  Part I

Justice in Action

Topics encompassed by the theme of justice together form a very large proportion of what the Bible says about how to relate to other people. It is essential that we incorporate the Bible’s teaching on these topics into our own lives. In doing so, we must be mindful that acting justly involves not only doing what is right ourselves; it also involves ensuring that others are treated fairly – notably the needy.

Do What Is Just and Right

Act justly

No, the Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.   Micah 6:8 GNT

[Moses, to the Israelites:] You must pursue justice alone so that you may live and inherit the land the Lord your God is giving you.   Deuteronomy 16:20 NET

In acting justly, do what is right

[God:] Learn to do what is right! Promote justice!   Isaiah 1:17a NET

To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.   Proverbs 21:3 ISV

Maintain justice

This is what the Lord says: Preserve justice, and do what is right. My salvation is about to come. My righteousness is about to be revealed.   Isaiah 56:1 GW

Do not show favoritism

You must not deal unjustly in judgment: you must neither show partiality to the poor nor honor the rich.   Leviticus 19:15a NET

[Paul, to Timothy:] Before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, I solemnly charge you to carry out these commands without prejudice or favoritism of any kind.   1 Timothy 5:21 NET

Justice and the Needy (I): Instructions

Do not mistreat the needy

Don’t oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people.   Zechariah 7:10a GW

Defend the cause of the needy

Defend the weak and the orphans; defend the rights of the poor and suffering. 4Save the weak and helpless; free them from the power of the wicked.   Psalms 82:3-4 NCV™

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; defend the rights of all those who have nothing. 9Speak up and judge fairly, and defend the rights of the poor and needy.”   Proverbs 31:8-9 NCV™

Provide the needy with food and clothing

John answered them, “The person who has two tunics must share with the person who has none, and the person who has food must do likewise.”   Luke 3:11 NET

A disciple named Tabitha lived in the city of Joppa. Her Greek name was Dorcas. She always helped people and gave things to the poor.39So Peter went with them. When he arrived, he was taken upstairs. All the widows stood around him. They were crying and showing Peter the articles of clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.   Acts 9:36, 39 GW

Even sell your possessions so as to give to the poor

[Jesus:] Sell your possessions and give to the poor.   Luke 12:33a NET

They [believers] made it their practice to sell their possessions and goods and to distribute the proceeds to anyone who was in need.   Acts 2:45 ISV

Treat foreigners the same as your native-born

The foreigner who resides with you must be to you like a native citizen among you; so you must love him as yourself, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.   Leviticus 19:34a NET

Note that foreigners were seen as being vulnerable and needy.

Justice and the Needy (II): Insights

Defending and providing for the needy are part of true religion

[God, referring to King Josiah:] He always did right— he gave justice to the poor and was honest. 16That’s what it means to truly know me.   Jeremiah 22:15b-16a CEV

Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world.   James 1:27 NET

Providing for the needy brings oneself blessing

The one who is gracious to the poor lends to the Lord, and the Lord will repay him for his good deed.   Proverbs 19:17 NET

[Jesus:] Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.   Luke 6:38 NET

Quite possibly Jesus has giving to the poor primarily in view. This teaching is at least inclusive of it.

God will punish those who ignore the needy

“Then he [Jesus Christ] will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. 43I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’ 45Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ 46And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”   Matthew 25:41-46 NET

Pray for persecuted Christians