Human beings have a natural capacity to make judgments. Some are quicker to make judgments, some are more vocal with their verdicts, and some are more keen in their ability to judge, but all make judgments.
What kind of judgments do we make? Are our judgments fair and just? Justice is a core virtue that encompasses a multitude of needed characteristics in our lives. Many of the biblical requirements for righteous living can be summarized in the command to be just. Justice is a fundamental gauge of character, indicating our attitude toward truth and our view of other human beings. It even involves how we look at ourselves.
Justice is often mentioned in passages which mention fundamental virtues from which other aspects of a godly life flow. Micah wrote, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). Solomon said, “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (Prov. 21:3). Jesus said that “judgment, mercy, and faith” are “weightier matters” of the law (Matt. 23:23).
To see how broad the concept of justice is, consider how this virtue is violated. These are just a few ways that we can be unjust:
Justifying the wicked (Prov. 17:15)
Condemning the just (Prov. 17:15)
Taking a bribe (Deut. 16:19)
Extortion (I Cor. 6:10)
Being angry at someone without a cause (Matt. 5:22)
Bearing a grudge (Lev. 19:18)
Refusing to pay workers what is due them (Lev. 19:13)
Failing to do the work for which one is paid (Eph. 6:6)
Misjudging the motives of others (Josh. 22)
Condemning others while excusing self (Rom. 2:1-3)
Refusing to pay what is owed (Ecc. 5:4)
Mistreating the handicapped (Lev. 19:14)
Showing partiality to the rich (James 2:1-13)
Favoring the poor in judgment (Lev. 19:15)
Being partial toward one child over another (Gen. 27)
Racism (John 4:9)
Committing or condoning slander of a good man (I Kings 21)
Uttering or condoning the praise of a reprobate (Eph. 5:11)
Rejoicing when an enemy falls (Prov. 24:17-18)
Using unsound arguments to try to prove a man is wrong (I Thess. 5:21)
Condemning a person for associating with a good man (I Sam. 20:30)
Condemning others over matters of personal judgment (Rom. 14)
Answering a matter before you hear it (Prov. 18:13)
Judging by appearance (John 7:24)
Condemning children because of the sins of their parents or parents because of their children’s sins (Deut. 24:16)
Overcharging customers for goods bought (Deut. 25:13-16)
Taking advantage of a widow, orphan, or stranger (Deut. 24:17)
Condemning a man for sins in his past that God has forgiven (Psa. 103:12)
By now you have probably thought of others to add to this list. All these examples should remind us of how far-reaching the principle of justice is, helping us to “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).
Kerry Duke