The Rule of Law: Justice (3)
Biblical justice obligates us to certain actions.
“You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:13, 13
Biblical justice is a concept constructed along five sides. These are not separate sides but intimately linked and interactive. Like the Pentagon in our nation’s capital, each side has a similar appearance and is connected by many avenues and communications with all the other sides in a single concept expressing love for God and neighbor and faithfulness to God’s covenant and Word.
The first side of the concept of justice is what we might call obligatory justice. This is the most basic form of justice for it outlines what we owe to God and neighbor simply by virtue of who they and we are. The Ten Commandments as a whole can be considered as outlining our obligations of love to God and neighbor, as Jesus seemed to imply in Matthew 22:34-40. We owe God supreme love and faithful obedience (Commandments 1-4); we owe our neighbor the same love we would show ourselves and, thus, expect from him in return (Commandments 5-10).
Within this framework, then, the Law of God selects certain areas of obligation toward God and neighbor for further elaboration and clarification. These are provided, it would appear, to address certain proclivities of our sinful hearts, so that we might not give in to what are perhaps the more common temptations human beings might face.
These could include taking advantage of others, looking down upon them, or acting scornfully and without consideration of their interests and needs. Or dabbling in idolatry of one form another, thinking that we can honor God and yet hold to other objects of “worship”—such as Solomon tried unsuccessfully to do (1 Kings 11).
So the Law of God provides statutes and precepts which, if we learned them and meditated on them frequently, would serve to warn us when we were being tempted to take advantage of others, neglect their well-being, or show them disdain; or whenever we might think to create some private pantheon of affections alongside the supreme love and obedience we are to show to the Lord.
If the laws and statutes illustrating our obligations of justice toward God and men were truly inscribed on our hearts, minds, and consciences, we would be much more consistent in showing love to each other.
For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the life of faith, get The Ground for Christian Ethics from our online store.
In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T.M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).
Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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