After studying Loving Mercy a while back, I was reminded again how much I love Micah 5:8. There is such powerful wisdom contained in such few words. What does the Lord require of us?

  • Do justly
  • Love mercy
  • Walk humbly with your God

Since we already took a closer look at loving mercy, I would like to dive deeper into the other two as well, starting with “do justly”. I think this is the one we are most likely to skim over in our modern day lives. We tend to think of justice as being the purview of judges and police officers instead of normal citizens like ourselves. So what does it mean for us to “do justly”?

Mishpat and Tsedeq – a deeper meaning of justice

The word translated as “justly” is the Hebrew word mishpat, which is also translated as judgement or justice. This word is found over 400 times in the Old Testament, and the theme of justice and doing justly is prolific throughout the entire story of God and His people. This word can mean justice in the punitive sense of a person being punished for wrongdoing, but it can also mean restoring fairness and equality among people. It is often paired with the word tsedeq, which is most frequently translated as righteousness but is also translated as just (11 times) or justice (12 times). The video below offers a great explanation of the meaning of these two words.

Check out this helpful video from the Bible Project about the importance of justice throughout the Bible.

“Do justly” means that we should be just in the way we treat all people, most especially the vulnerable. This theme is prevalent throughout the Bible. God’s people are instructed not to be partakers of injustice, but rather to help people who have been treated unjustly. Reading through scriptures on doing justly reminds me of the verses I found about loving strangers. God takes our attitude and treatment of vulnerable populations very seriously.

He is the Rock, His work is perfect;

For all His ways are justice,

A God of truth and without injustice;

Righteous and upright is He.

Deuteronomy 32:4

Justice in the Bible

There are so many verses to search through on this topic. A complete list would be overly long, but here are some key Scriptures that I’ve found helpful.

  • God is just and justice is important to Him. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19, Psalm 89:14)
  • Don’t be unjust in dealing with either the poor or the rich. Be fair and do what is right. (Leviticus 19:15 & 35; Deuteronomy 1:17)
  • Injustice to the the stranger, widow and fatherless brings a curse. (Deuteronomy 27:19, Jeremiah 22:3-5)
  • God expected His leaders to administer justice (I Kings 10:9, I Chronicles 28:7, II Chronicles 9:8, Proverbs 8:15, Proverbs 29:4, Isaiah 1:23, Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42)
  • God expects His people to do justice (Psalm 82:1-5, Isaiah 1:17, James 1:27)
  • The people of Israel are given many warnings to change their ways and to stop allowing injustice to prevail in their land. (Jeremiah 5:22-31, Isaiah 59:1-13)
  • God loves justice and will not leave the wicked unpunished. (Psalm 33:5, 37:28, 97:2, 99:4, 140:12, 146:7, Isaiah 10:1-3)
  • God desires justice and righteousness more than sacrifices. (Proverbs 21:3, Isaiah 1:11-17, Amos 5:21-24, Matthew 9:13)
  • Prophets told of a Messiah who would bring justice (Isaiah 11:1-5, Matthew 12:18-21)

Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Isaiah 1:17 NKJV

The books of the prophets in particular are full of admonitions and warnings about the way God’s people have forsaken both His commands and justice. He rebukes the people not only for their idolatry but also for their oppression of the poor and the vulnerable. Conversely, it is also full of promises of peace and prosperity once they turn back to the ways of justice and obedience to God.

But I don’t want to be too political…

Christians seem to get very nervous around the word justice. They argue that involving ourselves in seeking justice for the oppressed is dealing in politics and we should leave it alone. I strongly disagree. There is nothing political about seeking the safety and well-being of our fellow humans.

Doing justice today can include many things, whether it be the practical, personal, or political. We can reach out and serve our neighbor who has been treated unjustly and offer our love and compassion. Since we live in a democratic society in which we are participants in our government, we can also advocate for those being mistreated. This could range from advocating in court for children in the foster care system through an organization like CASA, to reaching out directly to lawmakers to express how our faith informs our views on current issues such as the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. We can share our views in love and kindness even if they are on controversial issues.

When people come together in love, amazing things can happen

When we see burdens faced by our neighbors and take action to help, that is doing justice. God created these people, and there is no doubt that He cares how they are treated. Therefore, I must also care. I understand that issues of injustice are often large and complex, and it’s difficult to know the best response. But it’s not difficult to care about the people involved. We can all use the talents we’ve been given to improve the lives of those around us. When people come together in love, amazing things can happen.

Jesus doesn’t tell us to start a political revolution to solve all of the world’s problems. Even if we did have the political power to change every unjust law and practice, we can never fix the root problem of sin and greed in the human heart. We know the world will always have problems and that power breeds corruption. (Remember Ecclesiastes 5:8). However, Jesus does tell us to love our neighbor, the stranger, and even our enemies. As citizens in a free country, we can use our voice to encourage lawmakers to enact policies that promote justice. We can band together with our neighbors to provide for the needs of those who are suffering. Most importantly, we can pray both for those in authority and for those who are oppressed. We might not see the way, but we can call on God to bring His justice for the suffering. While we cannot do everything, we must all do something.