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(Part 15)


Today's readings again point us to our theme for 2010. "The Almighty! Just and righteous is He." As we are children of God who are made in His image and likeness, so too should we be just and righteous. Yesterday (Lessons of Job Part 14) we looked at the righteousness of Job. Today we look at the aspect of justice as practiced by Job.

Our theme verse says, "The Almighty! we cannot discover him, pre-eminent in power and judgment; his great justice owes no one an accounting." (Job 37:23). Today's psalm verse says, "Therefore the wicked will not survive judgment, nor will sinners in the assembly of the just." (Ps 1:5). God judges us and metes justice according to our conduct. All are judged, and the goats are separated from the sheep. If we are to survive judgment, we must be just.

How are we just? Let us again look at Job, at the very same verses we examined yesterday in looking at his righteousness (from Job 31). But first, know that there is an interplay between being righteous and being just. If one is righteous, then one must be just. If one is to be just, then one must be righteous. What is the difference? Righteousness is being in right relationship with God and living a life according to His ways. It is being holy. Justice is giving to the other person whatever is his due. Righteousness is a state of being personally right with God. Justice is the state of doing right to others.

Job was a just man, and he knew it. "Let God weigh me in the scales of justice; thus will he know my innocence!" (Job 31:6). In what ways was Job just? Job acted in practical day-to-day ways that gave those he interacted with what was their due. One, he paid his tenants for the produce of the land (Job 31:39), thus giving just compensation. Two, he did not lust against a maiden or woman (Job 31:1), thus not violating their dignity. Three, he did not covet what belonged to his neighbor (Job 31:9), thus giving due recognition to what was his or not his. Four, he treated his servants well (Job 31:13), thus giving them due respect and proper compensation. Five, he cared for and provided for the poor (Job 31:16,19), thus giving them an equitable share of the world's goods. Six, he did not raise his hand against the innocent (Job 31:21), thus not oppressing the powerless. Seven, he did not trust in mammon (Job 31:24-25), thus not failing to be grateful to God for his abundance. Eight, he did not lapse into idolatry (Job 31:26-27), thus not depriving God of the worship that was due to Him alone. Nine, he did not wish or exult in evil for his foes (Job 31:29), thus not failing to love even his enemies. Ten, he offered hospitality to strangers (Job 31:31-32), thus giving them due consideration as children of God. Eleven, he did not abuse the land (Job 31:38), thus exercising proper dominion over nature and the environment.

Because God is just and righteous, He desires that we be just and righteous as well. But it is our choice. Unfortunately we are hampered by our human flesh and the lure of the world. But God's grace is sufficient, if we but take hold of it. So as today's reading in Romans says, "For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness for lawlessness, so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification." (Rom 6:19b). So we choose. Now because God is just and righteous, our choice is ultimately a choice to be for or against God. There will be those who will choose one or the other. And so there will be division, as today's gospel reading shows. Jesus himself says he came to establish division, where "a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three" (Lk 12:52). Even the closest of relatives or brethren will be divided (Lk 12:53).

Such division happens even in Christian community, even among the closest of brethren and even among the highest of elders. Unrighteousness and injustice lead to division. If people choose to lie, to malign, to attack, to withhold just compensation, to refuse to pay just debts, to distort truth, to afflict the innocent, then there will be strife and division. For the unrighteous and unjust, there will be punishment, for "the wicked will not survive judgment" and "the way of the wicked leads to ruin." (Ps 1:5a,6b). They are the enemies of God.

But why is it that in the world the good suffer and the bad seem to prosper? That is something that we will continue to consider as we learn the lessons of Job. But suffice for now to know: "The Lord watches over the way of the just" and "Happy those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked" (Ps 1:6a,1a). Our call is clear: just and righteous should we be.

God bless you.


(October 22, 2009)

"For to me life is Christ, and death is gain." (Phil 1:21)

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