Virtue of the Week: Justice


We sometimes hear it said that Justice is blind. We can all picture that image of the statue of the blind woman with the outstretched arm holding a balance or a scale. That is more of an image of “American Social Fairness” than it is “Biblical Justice”. Being “fair” and being “just” are not the same things, and we shouldn’t get them confused. We can be fair by giving each other the same amount of everything. But justice begs the question, what does each need? Biblical justice is not blind nor totally impartial to those who are most affected by evil and oppression, especially the stranger, the poor, the widow and the orphan. What does each need? Biblical justice requires that I come to intimately know who the stranger is, by name, who the poor man, woman, or child is, by name, and who the widow or orphan is, by name. That we reach out to them, seek their hearts, and help them with their needs. Biblical justice is more about creating serving relationships with those in need, than it is about fairness or their rights as American citizens. Biblical justice forces us to get involved, create a relationship, and love.

AMERICAN SOCIAL FAIRNESS (Fairness by law) = working to get people what is equal to all others. (Often not enough for some and too much for others)

BIBLICAL JUSTICE (Justice by love) = working to get people what is equal to their need.

JusticeSolomon’s Justice
Too often the phrase “splitting the baby” is equated with justice. And sometimes the arbiters of justice in our modern world (judges) believe that giving something to both parties involved in a dispute is the wise and fair thing to do, after all, that’s the Wisdom of Solomon, isn’t it? Well, let’s take a look at the story and see……..

Two women having recently given birth came to King Solomon to settle an important dispute. One of the mothers had accidentally smothered her infant while sleeping, and silently replaced her dead child with the other. The mother of the living baby awoke, and realized the dead child was not hers. They stood before the King, and argued a fairly typical “he said/she said” type situation that we see in courts today all the time. King Solomon asked for a sword, so he could cut the baby in half, and give part of the baby to each. The real mother cried out not to cut the child in half, but to give it to the other woman. Solomon gave the baby to her, because he knew that would be the real mother’s reaction. OK. So why is this used as an example of Solomon’s wisdom? Because he was really going to split the baby? Of course not.

The Wisdom of Solomon was in devising a plan that would reveal the truth.

The quality of mercy is not strain’d, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: it blesseth him that gives and him that takes. Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes the throned monarch better than his crown; His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, the attribute to awe and majesty, wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; but mercy is above this sceptred sway, it is enthroned in the hearts of kings, it is an attribute to God himself; and earthly power doth then show likest God’s, when mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew, though justice be thy plea, consider this, that in the course of justice none of us should see salvation: we do pray for mercy; and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.William Shakespeare

A socialist once came to see Andrew Carnegie and soon was railing against the injustice of Carnegie having so much money. In his view, wealth was meant to be divided equally. Carnegie asked his secretary for an assessment of everything he owned and at the same time looked up the figures on world population. He did a little arithmetic on a pad and then said to his secretary. “Give this gentleman l6 cents. That’s his share of my wealth.”

Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do