By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
G.K. Chesterton famously said, “When man ceases to worship God he does not worship nothing but worships everything.”
In a time in history where information is being thrown at us at a million miles a minute we are in danger of easily buying into everything we hear. Wisdom and careful study of the Bible are more necessary than they ever have been.
Our world is in desperate need for clarity, healing, and the fight for social justice is raging. Where does God stand on these pressing issues? His word tells us unequivocally His heart is for the lost and needy of our world. We must rely on God as our moral guide.
Let’s be those that seek His wisdom and heart as we come alongside those who are in need as they pursue equity in this broken world.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/jacoblund
1. Proverbs 31:9: “Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.”
Defend the rights of the needy.
This verse answers with a resounding “yes” to the question: Should believers speak up when we see injustice being carried out around them? The wisdom of God’s word pushes us to move past our affiliations, comfort zones, and tells us each to be an advocate for those we come across in our lives that need help being heard.
Inaction is not something the Bible makes room for. What an uncomfortable truth, for me and for all of us who would rather live life blinded to the needs of others in our communities.
What does action look like? There is not one size-fits-all answer to this question. Some helpful steps to take to find your way to help is to first listen, then pray, and then take God-inspired action.
2. Zechariah 7: 9-10: “Thus has the Lord of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.”
Dispense justice while practicing kindness.
The image of justice and kindness is such a powerful one! So often our world either leans towards one of these ideas at the expense of the other. People will push loudly for justice but fail to show compassion through their words and actions. Hence many heated online exchanges that turn ugly because our passion for truth and rightness begins to outweigh our willingness to show kindness.
On the other hand we can prize kindness as our salvation against any culpability in our role perpetuating injustice in our society. We see ourselves as “kind to all” or a “good person” so we fail to recognize our passive participation in the brokenness of our world. God calls us to strive to marry these two ideas together!
Show kindness and compassion for all while pursuing justice- this is God’s way.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/trumzz
3. Deuteronomy 10:18: “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.”
God shows His love.
The God who created the universe is an active one that goes out of his way to show that he cares! The story of the Bible is full of ways God steps in for the lost, enslaved, broken, underdog, sinful, outcasts, and even the rich in an effort to show them that He cares.
God freed the enslaved people of Egypt, he gave Solomon riches and wisdom despite the fact he was conceived through questionable circumstances, and He died on the cross for the world to save us from our self-inflicted death sentences.
The lesson for us is that we are to live in a way that shows the love of God in practical ways. Give food and shelter to the needy, words of hope to the lost, encouragement to the depressed, and be people who stand up for the oppressed. The comfort is that when we fail to do these things with perfection because as people we inevitably don’t get it all right; God sees the needs of the world and he works to bring justice and provision!
4. Proverbs 29:7: “The righteous are concerned for the rights of the poor, The wicked does not understand such concern.”
The righteous are concerned for the poor.
Righteous means to be morally right or justifiable. God’s view of what is “morally right” includes being concerned for the rights of the poor in our communities. He judges us by how we treat the most down and out in our society.
Interestingly, in American Christianity, we talk a lot more about righteous living that is inwardly focused. We focus on virtues such as honesty, hard work, or faithfulness; which all are characteristics the Bible promotes.
Sometimes we don’t spend as much time talking about how we or systems in our society are treating the poor and needy. Proverbs highlights the importance of our engagement rather than ignorance on these issues.
God’s heart is for the least of these.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Motortion
5. Romans 12:15-18: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep..."
... Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
God values unity, humility, and peace.
Having one mind with one another means that we come alongside those we know and help carry their burdens as well as share with them when they find joy. When we see others cry out because they are in pain, oppressed, or hurting we are to be those who weep with them. We live with humility, not relying on our own ability to reason but constantly going back to the Bible to find Wisdom.
We do not respond in kind when we have been harmed. We respond with God’s grace and wisdom. We respect others and do what we can to live with peace. God wants justice in our communities so we can live in peace. He does not desire for us to live in conflict or turmoil.
6. Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”
Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.
This is one of the most clear and beautiful mandates of the Bible! It answers the question that many Believers ask: What does God want from me? God wants us to pursue justice in our world, love showing other kindness no matter the circumstance or in our modern context no matter what platform we are using, and he wants us to live with humility in community with God.
The pursuit of justice is required of us. It is close to God’s heart. God hates sin. Injustice flourishes when sin and disobedience to God’s way is allowed to run rampant in our world. If we want to see God’s will done on Earth (Matthew 6:10) then we have to be people who pursue justice.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Freedom007
7. Matthew 25:40: “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
God cares about the least of them.
Matthew 25:40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
God cares about how we treat other people. While our salvation is a free gift, it is a gift that inspires us to show the love of God to others. How we do for the “least of these” has spiritual value!
Social justice has the biggest impact on the marginalized groups in our communities. If we want to be those that show care for people in need we have to care about just the policies, systems, and actions that are common in our society.
When we start seeing God’s heart for the needy, a passion to act, serve, love, and come alongside those in need should begin to well up in our hearts. Our God is one of action, seeing our needs, and calling us all to be people that show His love to our world.
8. James 1:27: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Pure religion looks like visiting the distressed.
The orphans and widows during this time in history would have represented societies' most helpless members. Now we may think of refugees, foster kids, or those trapped in poverty. According to James “pure religion” is more than getting a service right or following a certain set of rituals but about showing up and helping those in need as well as keeping yourself untainted by the world and it’s systems.
We must not forget in our quest for justice that we are pursuing justice in the name of Jesus. It is not the systems of the world that will save us. God can use them to bring justice forth but we must be leery of relying on a person, group, campaign, or any other human construct as our salvation.
While God uses humans, He alone is able to judge with perfection.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/WoraweeMeepian
9. Isaiah 1:17: “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.”
Learn to do good and seek justice.
This verse instructs us to “learn" to do good, seek justice, and so on. This choice of words implies that these actions do not come natural to us. If we are not teaching ourselves God’s way we can become accustomed to evil.
Have you ever wondered how is it possible that certain injustices were carried out by so many? The answer is that men easily become accustomed to evil if they are not vigilant in their study of the word of God. Once evil is normalized in our lives we no longer are able to seek justice, reprove the ruthless, or defend the needy.
God tells us that his words are a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths (Psalm 119:105). His Word shows us the way of goodness and mercy.
10. Jeremiah 22:3: “Thus says the Lord, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”
Do justice and deliver the oppressed.
God directly calls us to do justice! Justice in this passage looks like delivering those who have been oppressed, not mistreating others, and not shedding innocent blood. God is not neutral on issues of social justice.
God has given us firm ground to stand on when it comes to morality. We can go to His Word as our solid ground to show us the way when we feel unsure about how to respond to difficult situations in our world. Let God’s Spirit guide you to be a godly advocate in our dark world.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Punnarong