He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
–Micah 6:8 (NIV)
“Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”
The February 14, 2023 The Word for You Today devotional tells a story. “When he was a seminary student, Jim Wallis and some of his classmates took scissors to the Bible and cut out every verse about poverty, wealth, justice, or oppression. And would you believe it, by the time they had finished, there were some two thousand verses lying on the floor! The fact is, when you cut concern for the poor from your Bible, you cut the heart right out of it! (…) Jesus often quoted Scripture, but only on one occasion do we find Him selecting and reading from it. And what portion did He choose to read publicly? “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor…to proclaim freedom for the prisoners…recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” (Lk. 4:18 NIV).
A common misconception of the Bible goes like this: “The God of the Old Testament was violent and vengeful, but the God of the New Testament is loving and forgiving.” However, in what many call “the highwater mark of the Old Testament,” the Prophet Micah commands three positive, affirmative attributes: act justly; love mercy; walk humbly with your God.
And as Ben Franklin pointed out, justice is like a two-sided coin. We are not to commit a “sin of commission” by wronging or injuring someone. Likewise, we are not to commit a “sin of omission” by “omitting the benefits that are your duty.” As the Old Testament puts it: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” (Prov. 3:27 NIV)
But be warned: Sometimes when taking a stand for justice, a price is involved. And many times, you’ll stand alone. Fox TV meteorologist Adam Klotz, 37, was riding a Manhattan subway home one night when he observed a group of teens harassing a man around the age of 80. “I was like, ‘Yo, guys, cut that out.’ And they decided, ‘All right, if he’s not going to get it, you’re going to get it.’” The youths then left the senior citizen — and instead assaulted Klotz. Klotz was badly injured, but later recovered.
Klotz took a stand for justice and love for his fellow man, a stranger. Rather than turn a blind-eye to injustice, he spoke up and took action.
Despite all the confusion in our culture about the topic, “Love” is not just a mushy emotion or mindless acceptance of everything. It may involve speaking an uncomfortable truth to someone, or taking a stand for justice in the face of wrongdoing.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
Many claim “You can’t mix politics and religion,” but Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was both a religious and political figure, and he quoted Amos 5:24 in his last speech before his life was tragically cut short by an assassin’s bullet. “We need all of you. And you know what’s beautiful to me, is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It’s a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and say, ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.'”
Where is God calling you to take a stand for justice?
This is Part 8 of a 13-Part series, based on 13 virtues that Benjamin Franklin sought to incorporate into his daily life, each of which has a scriptural basis. Franklin began this system in 1726, when he was incredibly only 20 years old. He realized that, since each year has 52 weeks, one can repeat this series four times annually. A chart like the one Franklin designed to help one mark one’s progress can be found here.