When we think about injustice, we often think more about what we personally hate as opposed to what God hates. True, biblical justice isn’t defined by our personal likes and dislikes, but by the righteous character of God.
According to God, we are all guilty of injustice. No person makes it through his or her life without committing offenses against God and others as well as experiencing offense at the hands of someone else. We cannot live as sinners, among sinners, in a fallen world, in any other way.
Most of us are quick to condemn the shedding of innocent blood (although in an abortion culture, too many make an exception concerning the innocent blood of pre-born human beings), but we can fail to see certain types of slander (lying and exaggerating), bearing false witness, and the causing of divisions as injustices…even participating in such sins when they support a desired narrative.
This is due to the fact that our judgment is based on our personal standards and not on God’s.
Eventually, the abuse came to light, but the teacher had tenure and was protected from the consequences of her actions, and I was denied justice for the harm that had been done to me. Additionally, I had to finish the school year in her class.
The following school day, after the meeting my parents had with the principal and the teacher, she told me to come to her desk and forced me to repeat after her that the abuse and injustice I had experienced from her had been my fault and that I had deserved it.
Several years later, in high school, I came down with a severe case of mono and was unable to attend school for quite some time. Once I recovered, I struggled to enter back into the classroom while also trying to get caught up on all the work I had missed. In a moment of frustration because I had, yet, another test to make up, my science teacher picked up her large jar of pens and pencils and hurled it at me in the middle of class.
These two stories aren’t the only ones I could tell you about experiencing or witnessing abuse and injustice from teachers. Should it then be assumed all teachers are abusive? Does that narrative paint an accurate picture? Would sharing such a meme on social media and spreading such a narrative be just?
Let me tell you another story.
I walked into my high school speech class one day to discover a speech was due I had completely forgotten about. My heart literally sank into my stomach. There was a ray of hope, though, as we would only be able to get through a few speeches within the hour, and there was a good chance I wouldn’t be called on.
The bell rang and the teacher called the class to order taking attendance and giving announcements. I kept my head down not wanting to make eye contact. He went on to explain that today we would begin giving our speeches. I held my breath. There was a long pause, and, then, I heard my name. Not only would I give my speech that day, I would be the first.
Now, I could have been honest and admitted I wasn’t prepared. Instead, I grabbed a stack of blank notecards from my folder and headed to the podium. Putting a smile on my face, and looking out over the classroom, I made up a speech on the spot even flipping through my blank cards pretending to read from them as I went.
After class, my teacher asked me to stay behind for a minute. I knew he knew I had just faked my way through that speech, but, instead of a lecture, he asked me to consider joining the speech team. I made an A on the speech I had bluffed my way through. He didn’t criticize my lack of preparedness or my dishonesty, he saw that I had a natural talent, and he wanted to help me grow it.
I did join the speech team and performed well enough that I was one of the only kids in the history of my school at that time to qualify for Nationals. There was even a small write-up on me in our local paper.
Why am I sharing all this? You see, that teacher also had a huge impact on me that affects me still today. A positive impact.
As a child, my teachers had a lot of power over me. They were the authority. Some used their positions for good and some for evil. It’s not true that all teachers are abusive. It is true that some teachers are. Being a teacher does not make one inherently good or evil. Good and evil come from an individual’s heart.
This truth makes sense in light of God’s Word. Scriptures tell us that all people are born sinners and within every human heart lies the capacity for evil (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9). There isn’t a single profession that doesn’t hold within it the best that humans can be and the worst.
A while back, peaceful protests and calls for change marched through our cities in the U.S. following the death of George Floyd who died as a police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee, and, unfortunately, riots burned through many of our communities. Heartbreak, confusion, and frustration as well as bitterness, violence, and retaliation spilled over into our streets and onto our social media feeds.
Many of the conversations begun were good and necessary. We need to consider how we can all do better and where there needs to be reform and change. But, there was also a lot spoken, shared, and done that weren’t true or helpful but harmful and even their own forms of injustice.
During this time, a Christian friend of mine shared a meme unjustly slandering all police officers as a group.
I privately reached out to her pointing out that the meme she shared wasn’t true. It wasn’t based on facts. It was exaggerated and slanderous. In this moment, spreading such exaggerations wasn’t just wrong, it was dangerous.
She responded that I might be right, maybe it was exaggerated, but the meme still created an accurate picture of the way things are.
Friends, lies and falsehoods do not give us an accurate picture of the way things are…of reality. They distort reality and manipulate our understanding of the world.
My friend is not evil. I don’t believe she shared that meme out of a desire to cause harm, but slander is harmful, and her response when confronted is indicative of where we are in the West. We no longer shape our narratives based on the truth and the facts, but we shape the truth and the facts based on our narratives.
When we lie (exaggerating the facts is a form of lying), put forth false narratives (a type of bearing false witness), and slander (another form of lying and bearing false witness), we are committing injustices. God puts these sins, and the divisions they cause between family members, neighbors, communities, and even the Body of Christ, in a list of sins He hates right alongside the shedding of innocent blood and the pursuit of evil schemes.
We cannot practice one form of injustice in answer to another form of injustice and call ourselves righteous. God calls us unjust and sinful, and He hates our injustice and sinfulness.
The horrible truth is that when we lie, slander, cast false blame, and bear false witness, we do not do so in a vacuum. Real people are hurt. Real relationships are destroyed. Real trust is lost.
And when our laws, policies, and practices are then based on such sins, the consequences are great. It is no exaggeration to say that slander, exaggeration, and lying have lead to evil schemes and the shedding of innocent blood.
The divisions these sins cause are being felt across the nation, across the Western Church, and even within families, and they are stumbling blocks to the pursuit of true, biblical justice based on God’s righteous character. Slander does not bring forth true justice. Lying and bearing false witness do not bring forth true justice. These are sins which are themselves injustices. The only foundation for true, biblical justice is the truth.
Conversations about police reform and building trust between officers and the communities they serve are necessary and appropriate. Accusations of police brutality must be investigated (whether George Floyd or Tony Timpa), and officers who are guilty of such crimes should be held accountable. There are bad cops, and there can be corruption among police officers and leadership.
It is wrong to turn a blind eye when such injustices are brought to light. We need to hear the cries of those who find themselves victims of such sins and support efforts that protect the innocent…innocent officers and innocent civilians…and promote true justice concerning the guilty.
The teacher who abused me should have been held accountable. When tenure protects abuse, there needs to be reform. It is the same with police and policing.
But here is the thing about abuse and brutality…it is wrong no matter who is applying it or to whom it is being applied. Abuse and brutality aren’t subjectively wrong…only considered injustices when used by certain people against certain people…but are objectively wrong. God is not partial. Brutality against the police and abuse of officers is also wrong. Disrespecting and abusing teachers is also unjust.
Lies, slander, false testimony and corrupt narratives used against innocent people are forms of brutality and abuse, and God hates them.
There are wonderful, even heroic, police officers who every day seek to do good in the communities they serve upholding justice and protecting the innocent. There are great teachers whose mission is to serve their students in educating, inspiring, and encouraging them. Our world is a better place because of these officers and teachers. Often, they go the extra mile to serve, protect, and care for others in ways we will never hear about.
The meme my friend shared concerning the police is just one example. There are many such examples circulating against various groups of people depending on the narratives being protected and supported.
It is very easy to see other groups of people as having a greater propensity for sin than the group we identify with and to paint an entire group of people with a broad brush of condemnation based on the actions of a few we see as part of that group. I struggle with this sin in my own heart.
When we begin to see our fellow human beings in this way…as groups to be affirmed or condemned instead of as individuals created in the image of God with sin natures like ours and in need of new life in Christ like us…it becomes easy to justify injustices against the group (such as slander and lies and false narratives) and against innocent individuals we see as representing the group (such as physical/verbal assault and brutality and canceling).
This is prideful, and pride is the very first sin mentioned in this list of what God hates…a pride so consuming you can see it on a person’s face…in their haughty (arrogant) eyes… with which they look down on others. In our day, we could say a pride so consuming you can see it all over our social media posts.
All who fear the Lord will hate evil.
Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance,
corruption and perverse speech.Proverbs 8:13
God hates all forms of evil from the shedding of innocent blood to slander, bearing false witness, corruption, and perverse speech…and the pride behind such sins. If we are to be a people of justice reflecting the character of our God who is just, we must hate all forms of evil, too, starting with hating the way they show up in our own hearts and lives and humbling ourselves in repentance.
We are told in James 4:6 that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Godly humility is not contrary to justice but actually anchors true, biblical justice and directs us as to the how and why behind our pursuits of justice. In God’s economy, the end doesn’t justify the means. God is as concerned with the righteousness of our means as of the righteousness of our end goals.
All pursuits of justice are to begin and end and be carried out according to Matthew 22:37-40…in love of God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, and love of our neighbors as ourselves…even those neighbors we may see in some way as our enemies.
Godly humility also protects us from committing our own sins of injustice in the name of justice. 1 Peter 1:17 states that God judges impartially according to each one’s deeds so we should conduct ourselves in fear…knowing that we were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from our forefathers…with the precious blood of the Lamb.
God is not a partial judge. He impartially judges each of us based on our own hearts, motivations, and actions. This is good news! If I had judged my speech teacher by the actions of my third grade teacher simply because they were both teachers, I would have judged him unjustly. I am thankful God doesn’t judge me based on the actions of someone else simply because we share a profession.
God’s impartial justice should motivate us to live in holy fear conducting ourselves according to His Word and not as the world which practices partiality and all forms of injustice calling good evil and evil good. We will be held accountable for our own deeds and responses.
The ways of the world and the answers of the culture are futile. They do not solve the issue of sin in which every human heart is born and under which all creation groans. We have been ransomed from our former futile ways with nothing less than the precious blood of Jesus, why, then, would we conduct ourselves as though still slaves to futility and sin? Why would we who worship a just, impartial Judge practice partiality and injustice in our judgment against any group or individual?
The book of 1 Peter goes on to tell us to put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander. Why? So that as new creations, as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light, 1 Peter 2:1-12.
When we deceive, when we are hypocritical in our conduct and partial in the application of justice, when we are envious, and when we slander, we forfeit the opportunity to proclaim the excellencies of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and share the good news of salvation and new life in Him.
With ready access to technology, social media, and a wide audience, the temptation and opportunity to circulate slander and false narratives is great.
Not everything about social media is evil. Good has come from it, too. But, it has been damning in the way it feeds our individual self-importance and destroys the humility necessary for community. It has been particularly damning for God’s people as it has encouraged both selfish ambition and deceit as Christians clamor and compete for leadership, relevance, power, and name recognition always having to have the first and last say with little regard for the truthfulness, faithfulness, or helpfulness of what is said.
We are a society obsessed with the idea of justice but often only according to our own definitions and standards which are subjective, many times wrong, and tossed about with every wave of cultural change. At the same time, we can be utterly blind to the many ways we are each guilty of injustice against God and our neighbors according to His definitions and standards which are true, righteous, and unchanging.
One of the great tragedies in the West is that the average Christian can tell you what a certain author says concerning justice before they can tell you what God says. I have no problem with reading books. Many are very helpful, but we need to read critically and with discernment using God’s Word as the standard of Truth, otherwise, it is the culture and not God shaping our minds, forming our hearts, and directing our actions. As Christians, if we find ourselves sharing a slanderous meme calling it justice without the slightest concern or prick of the conscience that God calls it injustice, it may not be His approval we are ultimately seeking.
So, how are we to conduct ourselves in a fallen, sinful, contentious, and angry world where sin, evil, and injustice exist and touch us personally and nationally? The Bible gives us everything we need to know in order to live holy lives for God’s glory in whatever circumstances and culture we may find ourselves in.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.2 Timothy 3:16-17
There is so much more that could and should be said, but the verses below give us much to meditate on and, if you’re like me, will challenge and convict. Do our hearts and minds align with the truth of God’s Word? Do our social media posts and interactions reflect His character?
- Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
- But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23
- Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Romans 12:9-11
- Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly. Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people. Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:15-16
- You must never twist justice or show partiality. Never accept a bribe, for bribes blind the eyes of the wise and corrupt the decisions of the godly. Deuteronomy 16:19
- My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? James 2:1-4
- Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27
- What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. James 2:14-17
- Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:3-4
- Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12
- Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32
- You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48
- Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Ephesians 4:2
- What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. James 4:1-5
- Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. James 1:19-20
- If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
- So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Romans 14:19
- Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Romans 12:17-19
If we want to see justice and goodness flourish in our homes and our communities, then we must first be a people committed to living holy lives in accordance with God’s Word and His way.
This world and our neighbors need new life in Jesus Christ whether they are police officers, teachers, doctors, politicians, small business owners, waiters, scientists, plumbers, stay-at-home parents, rebellious teenagers, drug addicts, thieves, etc. Let us conduct ourselves in our words, deeds, pursuits, memes, and posts in such a way that we do not forfeit the opportunity to proclaim His excellency and the good news of the Gospel.