What does it mean to do justice?

We are all too familiar with what is required of us via the Ten Commandments, and Martin Luther King Jr. made famous the quote from the Book of Amos, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”


But we seldom hear a sermon preached on doing justice, which the minor prophet Micah stated in Micah 6:8.

As it turns out, we do have some guidelines buried in the Book of Exodus shortly after the Ten Commandments: Exodus 23:1-9.

What we have here is an elaboration of some of the Ten Commandments, as they relate to how we are to treat our neighbor, especially those in need of our help, even if we consider this person our

These admonitions certainly point to the fact that God understands how easily we can fall into thinking like the devil.

Justice is to be practiced in our court system by witnesses testifying and by those serving as jurors.

False testimony is obviously to be avoided, and jurors are to avoid going along with the majority vote if they sincerely believe the majority is wrong.

This admonition by God can become a dangerous and troublesome position to take when the jurors have been sequestered for a long time and want to go home.

Furthermore, jurors are not to show partiality toward the wealthy or the poor. This admonition can easily play into the hands of politicians campaigning for office.

Then is stated a truly hard command from the Lord: We are to treat those we consider enemies as friends, especially when trouble comes their way.

It is worth noting that the Hebrew word translated “lawsuit” literally means contention and controversy.

When it comes to bribes, we may think this only applies to Third World countries, but such things can and do happen. Bribing officials blinds them from seeing the true story; therefore, justice that is bought is not justice at all.

The final admonition certainly addresses a modern-day controversy: how to treat the resident aliens (sojourner) where we work, live, and play. The Exodus account reminds the Jews that they were aliens in Egypt; therefore, they were admonished to treat their resident aliens like they had wanted to be treated in Egypt.

All of our forebears were aliens at one time. It is a good thing that some of our current immigration laws and state laws governing resident aliens were not in place back then.

Here we are to apply Jesus’ admonition to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, or, as he further elaborated on Maundy Thursday, “to love our neighbor even as I have loved you.”

Well, it is one thing to read and study about justice in the Bible. It is quite another to practice what we say we believe. Micah 6:8 did not say to study about justice.

It clearly stated that what the Lord requires of us is to do justice. Therefore, starting this very day, let us, with God’s help, practice engaging in acts of justice.




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