Ang daya! (A Filipino term: “So unfair!”)
This is a familiar cry among children. What do these words mean? To be unfair is to not follow the rules of the game. Do we not adults also cry ‘foul’ when we see our favourite team losing because of bad calls from the referees?
To be fair is to behave according to the principles of equality and justice. Having a sense of justice is a valued trait of a leader. In Biblical times, the king is expected to lead in righteousness and administer justice. It implies that the king should know what is right from wrong in order to rule justly. This is why Solomon prayed wisely:
7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:7-9
A sense of justice is not only for kings. It is something God wants us to know about him.
23 This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord. Jer. 9:23-24
It is also something we need to emulate because we are created in His image. There are 3 things in this passage that God considers important: kindness, justice and righteousness.
They are equally important – not one over the other. Kindness is about grace and mercy – giving to the undeserving and withholding what is deserved. What about justice? Justice is doing what is fair and right. Justice and righteousness go together. To administer justice, one needs to know right from wrong.
What about justice and mercy, are they against each other?
“Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psa. 85:10 NASB)
God showed us justice and mercy at the cross. He holds both as equally important – to be right, to be fair, and to be kind. It is right that sin is punished. His mercy costs him death of his son, Jesus on the cross. Jesus paid the price for our sins.
How are we to be just and kind? In the Bible, justice and kindness of God is often associated with the poor, the orphans, widows and foreigners. It is extended to the marginalised. Our sense of right and wrong is to follow God’s concern for the needy, the oppressed – those who are voiceless, powerless and helpless.
It is a sad reality that Christians are either too condemning or too conforming or too condoning. Our sense of right and wrong can be too strong that we do not forgive. We demand justice – we want vengeance. Or we need to avenge ourselves. We can also be on the other extreme, too forgiving that we neglect to speak out what is right.
It is said that to be right and not kind is not right. It is also not kind, to be kind and not right. How so? When I condone the mistake of one at the expense of another, I am being unkind to the one in the right.
Lord, please grant me wisdom to know right from wrong. Let me boast that I know you as my God who delights in kindness, justice and righteousness. Let me be just, right, and kind like you. Amen.