Don’t neglect justice.
Everyone should be treated fairly, with respect and dignity, regardless of their race, age, gender, appearance or socioeconomic status. God created us all in His Image, and He wants us to coexist with each other. He wants us to be considerate, without putting our own ambitions or desires ahead of others. Being just ensures that no one is exploited, mistreated, or disenfranchised even by those in power or authority. Justice protects and defends the vulnerable. God commands us all to be just because He is Just.
11 Therefore, because you tread down the poor and take grain taxes from him, though you have built houses of hewn stone, yet you shall not dwell in them. You have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink wine from them. 12 For I know your manifold transgression, and your mighty sins: afflicting the just and taking bribes; diverting the poor from justice at the gate (Amos 5).
There’s nothing hidden from God; He sees all that is done in secret. He knows of all the riches that have been gained by extortion and fraud. It is sinful for leaders to lavish on themselves what is not theirs. Those entrusted to hold and manage the purse strings should not use taxes for personal gain. They collect what is needed to meet the needs of the people, and the community includes the poor and less fortunate, whom they take from. God abhors all who despise justice, who take bribes while depriving the poor of what is just. Though they may glory in their stolen riches they will not escape God’s Judgment. Their great sins have been recorded by God.
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. 4 Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of The Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived on the Earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned, you have murdered the just; yet he does not resist you (James 5).
The rich who have kept back the fair wages of their laborers will succeed to live in pleasure and luxury, but for a time. They will continue to increase, while those who work for them struggle to make ends meet. They fatten themselves and amass all sorts of wealth, while they oppress those who depend on them for a living. Venal leaders will do anything to hold on to their power and wealth, even kill those who get in their way. God hears the cry of the afflicted. The Lord of hosts will prevail against the corrupt and greedy. Their wealth will not sustain their health. The money and possessions will not deliver them on the day of their calamity; it will be a witness against them to testify of their wickedness. In the end, misery will become their portion. They are God’s enemies. He will do what is just for those who can’t defend themselves.
Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David the son of Jesse; thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of The God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel: 2 “The Spirit of The Lord spoke by me, and His Word was on my tongue. 3 The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. 4 And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the Earth, by clear shining after rain’ (2 Samuel 23).
The God of Israel spoke by His Spirit to David, by putting His Word on David’s tongue. The God, and Rock, of Israel gave David his parting shot as the king was being succeeded by his son, Solomon. The most consequential words are those of The Spirit, when we are beginning or are ending our journey. David spoke of the qualifications that God wanted of all leaders. Those who take the responsibility to rule and lead others must be just, and must do so out of the fear of God. Their rule should not be driven by fear of losing their grip on power or the support of the masses. They must rule in the fear of God so that they can do what is just. Those who rule with justice, by keeping God’s Ways, will have a far-reaching impact on the lives of others. They will be unimpeded in executing the duties that benefit others; they will be like the light shining in the morning with no clouds to obscure it.
22 “Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. 23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. 24 But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5).
Those who are unjust are apathetic about the needs of others. They are callous because they are full of their own importance. They think that they can worship God with false humility by appeasing Him with their offerings. God will have none of it.
Thus says The Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for My Salvation is about to come, and My Righteousness to be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who lays hold on it. Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and keeps his hand from doing any evil” (Isaiah 56).
Blessed is the one who executes justice and does what is righteous. The Lord will reward them with His Salvation and clothe them with His Righteousness. The one who practices justice and righteousness worships God with a heart that is undefiled. Justice gives others what is acceptable to God. Justice is doing what God would do for others. God wants justice to abound to others like water. Being just is being motivated by the fear of God to do the right thing. Righteousness and justice put us in right standing with God.
My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Lord of Glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2)
Are you unjust in your thoughts about others? How often do you form an opinion of others based on their appearance? As those who have faith in The Lord of Glory, we must remember He loves all people, from all walks of life. We should not approach or treat others with disdain merely because of their appearance or status. God knows our thoughts before we act upon them. Evil thoughts are hatched by a misconceived perception of others. We should be kind and helpful to everyone as best as we know how. Our faith in The Lord is put to practice by how we relate to others.
6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out. When you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you. The Glory of The Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and The Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I Am’”(Isaiah 58).
The fast that God desires is not just one that deprives us of our pleasure, but deprives us so that someone else can have what they need. God also wants us to let go of the wickedness that holds others under a weight that is too heavy to bear. What might this wickedness be? Bitterness, pride, resentment, and begrudging the good that we know we should do. Relieve the oppressed and the afflicted of their troubles. Give to the poor and provide for the less fortunate. This is true fasting: doing what is just and right, that mitigates the suffering of others, and lightens their heavy burdens.
When we do what is just, it becomes our righteousness. God will give our life direction and purpose. He will heal our diseases so that we can continue to be effective and productive. His Glory will be our protection to guard us at every turn. Most Christians fast so that God can hear their prayers for a pressing issue. When we give sacrificially for the needs of others, we will call and God will answer. We will cry out to The Lord and He will say, “Here I Am”. Why? Because we have not just been concerned about our needs, but those of others.
6 With what shall I come before The Lord, and bow myself before The High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will The Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you: But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6)
What fasting, offerings, songs, and prayers are most pleasing to God? What does God require of us? What is good and acceptable as a token of honor in His Presence? He has shown us Who He is: The Lord, The Most High God. So we must not just approach Him or live before Him so flippantly. He has also shown us what He requires of us: to do what is just, love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him all the days of our lives. What else is there to do? but to be humble, just, merciful and compassionate, and spend all our days with God?
39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40 Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you.m42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Luke 11).
God is the Supreme Ruler of the Heavens and Earth. He expects rulers of people to be just and righteous in reverence to Him. Leaders who are corrupt and unjust are imperious, and apathetic to the needs of the people. They impoverish their people, while they amass wealth by fraud and violence. Their days are numbered, as God has recorded all their deeds. We must show compassion and mercy by not putting heavy burdens on others. We should be just in our thoughts about others, and be faithful to Christ, by offering others what is acceptable to God. True worship is not just defined by our church offerings, songs or fasting; it is also honoring God daily, by fearing Him, being just and righteous. When we lay this to heart, we prevail upon God to hear us when we call upon Him, and to answer, “Here I Am”.
23 Thus says The Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I Am The Lord, exercising loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the Earth. For in these I delight,” says The Lord (Jeremiah 9).