Righteousness, Justice, and Trust
Pastor Steve Ellison
There is a great call for justice these days and rightly so. However, I am convinced that most of the people calling for justice have no idea what they are asking for. I do not believe that they know what justice is and would not like justice if they got justice. On the other hand, I do not hear a great cry for righteousness. Similarly, I am convinced that most people are confused about what is righteousness. Very often God decrees, promises, describes, and commands righteousness and justice as a connected pair of attributes. Righteousness and justice are indispensable traits of God and commanded goals of mankind. Furthermore, it is precisely because of God’s righteousness and justice that He can be trusted. It is because of our lack of righteousness and justice that we cannot be trusted. Know for certain that God has commanded us to practice righteousness and justice.
Psalms 33:1-5 is helpful in these troubled times, “Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. For the word of the Lord is upright, And all His work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord.” (NASU) God is righteous and singing praises to Him is evidence of the righteousness (humanly speaking) of the singer. God is righteous, just, faithful, and loving; thus, He is worthy of all praise and honor. Only God is capable of judging justly and governing in righteousness. Human authority will never be able to rid self of bias and prejudice. Human authority will never have all the necessary facts to judge totally righteously and justly. Human authority will never be able to correctly discern all the falsehood coming from those accused of wrongdoing or from the accusers either. That is simply the human condition resulting from the Fall of Mankind described in Genesis. Only the reconciling work of Christ can keep us from harming each other.
Psalms 9:7-9 proclaims the eternal righteous justice of God, “But the Lord abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble.” (NASU) First, you should see in this passage, God is going to judge everyone. Second, God is going to judge righteously, without partiality or prejudice. Third, please do not interpret the passage to say that anyone who has been oppressed by fellow humans will escape judgment or punishment. Rather, they will simply receive just, righteous judgment, and punishment like their oppressors.
Psalms 9:10 connects righteous judgement with trustworthiness, “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” (NASU) To know God is to trust Him. If I have gotten to know God by experiencing Him, His faithfulness, holiness, truthfulness, goodness, lovingkindness, etc. will lead me to trust Him completely. I could do nothing else. God will not forsake those who seek Him. What does it mean to seek God? Elsewhere, the Bible commands us to seek God, but the Bible also makes it clear that no one seeks God without God’s prompting. Seeking God must necessarily include responding in faith (trust) to the revelation of Jesus Christ. In such case, God gives out mercy and grace to the seeking individual because justice and punishment was poured out on Jesus Christ who served as our Substitute.
No human really wants righteousness because we all love the darkness and hate the light. No human really wants justice because that sends us every one to eternal punishment. Every human must trust God to receive His mercy, grace, and forgiveness.