Better to have a little with righteousness
than to have abundant income without justice.
A person plans his course,
but the Lord directs his steps.
You may not know this, but a part of the definition of righteousness includes the idea of justice. There are two kinds of justice, legal and ethical. Within the idea of righteousness we find both. Someone who is living rightly, also lives justly.
Just as we have come to know that righteousness incorporates so many ideas, such as wisdom, a righteous person will be just. In this proverb, we see that it’s better to have fewer possessions and live righteously, than to have many possessions and live unjustly or unrighteously.
What is justice then? We read in Isaiah 61 a passage of scripture that Jesus also quotes about himself. If it’s in the Old Testament and New Testament, that’s a pretty good indication that we should pay special attention to the passage.
The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has chosen me.
He has commissioned me to encourage the poor,
to help the brokenhearted,
to decree the release of captives,
and the freeing of prisoners,
to announce the year when the Lord will show his favor,
the day when our God will seek vengeance,
to console all who mourn,
to strengthen those who mourn in Zion,
by giving them a turban, instead of ashes,
oil symbolizing joy, instead of mourning,
a garment symbolizing praise, instead of discouragement…
For I, the Lord, love justice
and hate robbery and sin.
I will repay them because of my faithfulness;
I will make a permanent covenant with them.
When Jesus quotes it, it’s a little different (Luke 4:18-19)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and the regaining of sight to the blind,
to set free those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
As we see, God is very much in favor of Justice. And the Justice we see God working out is, good news to the poor, release of captives and freeing of prisoners, help the brokenhearted, praise instead of discouragement, and sight to the blind.
Jesus did all those things. And while He did all of them physically, he did them spiritually as well. He preached good news to the poor – he encouraged them, but he, himself was the good news – the best news they could get. He set people free from the bondage of demon possession. He encouraged Mary and Martha after Lazarus had died, and ministered to their broken hearts. And, while hy physically gave sight to the blind, he gave us all sight from our spiritual blindness.
God loves justice and he hates injustice. We should be a people who seek to do justice as God would have us do it. There’s more to it than that, because we live in a New Testament society. We don’t just have the responsibility to do justice, it isn’t even just expected. A believer who doesn’t do justice would be considered an anomaly. And you can see evidence of this in the way the New Testament church lived. They were very just to one another and to those who needed it.
What about us?