I’ve been using the term justice lately in my conversations. Heck, I even decided to launch a consultancy called Justice Journey along with an annual Summit. But, I think justice is quickly becoming a buzz word. Definitions matter. True biblical justice is synonymous with freedom. Guess what? God cares about freedom, so much that he sent his son Jesus to free us from the tyranny of sin. Jesus was God in the flesh responding as a freedom fighter so that you and I could come back into fellowship with God.
Essentially, God in the person of Jesus has given us a model to follow. God has demonstrated what Justice is and how we as people ought to facilitate acts of Justice.
As of late, I’ve been wrestling through the book of James, and one passage keeps coming back to me:
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20 NIV
There it is.
Here’s where I’m challenged. Injustice is everywhere and is often overbearing and hard to manage. I find myself having to take a step back from social media due to tons of ignorance when it comes to true biblical justice. But, James is giving us another way to look at justice.
Justice starts at home. I have an obligation to be quick to listen. Quick to listen is an action that sends a message to people that they matter. It’s hard to diagnose a problem without getting the full scope of the problem. Often times, I find myself explaining to well-intentioned white Americans that if you want to be apart of the solution then it begins with listening. Listening is a discipline that yields fruit. This disciple is one worth mastering. If I’m honest, I don’t get this one right all the time, but I’m convinced this is the heart of God.
Slow. To. Speak.
I’m responsible for what comes out of my mouth. What comes out of my mouth comes from the reservoir of my heart. Therefore, God requires personal responsibility and stewardship of what we say to one another.
Once we personalize justice and break it down to being slow to speak, this gives us a way to choose wisely how we treat one another with our words. Jesus is a master at choosing his words wisely. Even when the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to trip him up he chose his words wisely. Even when he was on the cross he chose his words wisely. This simple, but powerful opportunity that James is inviting us into is a game changer.
Lastly, James encourages us to be slow to become angry. This is a biggie. If we’re honest we’ve all had our fair share of misusing anger in a way that hurts people versus helping people. Anger misused often becomes the agent of abuse towards others. When I’m short with my wife and kids it does not feel good to them.
The key to being slow to anger is realizing that it’s ok to be angry, but how I use anger matters to God.
When you think of justice begin at home. Maybe the world’s problems could be solved if we all decided that these three steps are important enough to practice daily.