Exploring the Heart of Justice

Families and businesses are making hard choices, choices in which fairness is important but may be difficult to achieve. I was listening to a podcast last week that addressed this issue as a matter of justice, which I think is an interesting way to look at it.

We’re experiencing two pandemics; the medical one causing illness, suffering and death due to a ravaging disease and the economic one causing financial hardship, food insecurity, and job loss due to a devastated economy.

Families and businesses are making hard choices, choices in which fairness is important but may be difficult to achieve. I listened to a podcast last week that addressed this issue as a matter of justice, which I found worth thinking more about.

What is justice?

In the podcast, Dr. Celine Grounder interviewed Adam Grant, a psychologist and professor. She asked him what makes for a good leader in the kind of crisis we’re experiencing now. He replied the best companies and their leaders base decisions on justice and he described 3 types of justice.

  • distributive justice- making choices that lead to fair outcomes
  • procedural justice-making decisions through a fair and unbiased process
  • interpersonal justice-making decisions in a way that treats people with respect, dignity, and compassion
What is Biblical justice?

This idea caught my attention because I made an insight recently while reading the part of the Bible known as the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew chapters 5 through 7 contains some of the most well known passages from the Bible, some you may not realize are biblical. Have you ever heard these phrases?

  • eye for an eye
  • turn the other cheek
  • go the extra mile
  • the Golden Rule
  • pearls before swine

These phrases, from the Sermon are attributed to Jesus and may not have been from a single sermon; the lessons it teaches may have been given at different times, as in the book Luke, which contains some of the same messages.

In the Sermon as in other New Testament scenes, Jesus taught his followers how they should live their lives and one word he uses several times is “righteousness”.

Righteousness sounds overtly religious, living bound by strict laws, emphasizing rule keeping, striving for perfection. As Richard Foster wrote, righteousness can consist of “control over externals, often including the manipulation of others.” (from Celebration of Discipline )

So I was surprised that one version, the New Living Translation (NLT), uses a different word for righteousness-justice.

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6, NLT
a ceramic cross with the Beatitudes Matthew 5:3-10

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6, NIV

Several other Bible verses suggest righteousness and justice are two aspects of the same concept.

  • The Lord loves righteousness and justice;the earth is full of his unfailing love. Psalm 33:5, NIV
  • The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. Psalm 103:6, NIV
  •  But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!   Amos 5:24, NIV

Reflecting on these and other scriptures in I Am With You author Ann Spangler wrote this

“Righteousness is a Biblical word that means being in a right relationship with God, and with others. Injustice fractures and destroys relationships….righteousness is

“primarily a relationship, never an attainment; a direction, a loyalty, a commitment, a hope-and only someday an arrival” (quoting Addison Leitch)

Practicing justice

Farther in the Sermon Jesus tells the people to

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Matthew 6:33, NLT

suggesting that living justly isn’t merely thinking about justice, but behaving in a just manner, perhaps like the interpersonal justice Mr. Grant describes in the podcast.

Reverend Erin Clifford explains both Old and New Testament Biblical justice in this short video.

social graphic from the LIGHTSTOCK.COM collection, an affiliate site

some other thoughts on the Sermon

Matthew 5:6 is from part of the Sermon known as the Beatitudes. learn more about it here

How to be blessed, happy, and healthy

And in the rest of the Sermon, Jesus goes on to describe some other criteria for living a righteous or just life. I’ll explore that further in another post.

Here is a link to the podcast if you’d like to listen to it .

EPIDEMIC- Good and Bad Bosses

“EPIDEMIC is a twice-weekly podcast on public health and the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19).  Hosted by Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist who has worked on tuberculosis and HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, and was an Ebola worker during the West African epidemic. And co-hosted by Ron Klain, the U.S. Ebola czar from 2014 to 2015.”

The COVID-19 pandemic may well be the defining moment of our times. Our lives have changed irrevocably. We need to understand the science so we can care for ourselves, our families, and our communities. And we need voices of reason to help us make sense of it all.

EPIDEMIC

In this episode, Dr. Celine Gounder talks to Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. They discuss

  • work during a pandemic and which companies are taking considerations to continue to take care of their employees, and which companies aren’t.
  • what good leadership during a crisis really looks like, and whether the COVID-19 pandemic may change the kinds of benefits that employers offer their employees.
  • how companies can improve their work-from-home culture, as well as how the pandemic may change people’s work-life/home-life balance permanently. 

exploring the HEART of justice

Thanks for joining me to explore justice from a social and Biblical perspective. I plan to share some other thoughts on this since it is so vital to working through the health and economic crisis we are facing.

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Dr. Aletha

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Sneezing Jesus@Daily Audio Bible

Brian Hardin has been podcasting the Bible to hundreds of thousands for over a decade, leading people through the whole Bible every year. Now he’s also reading his best selling book, Sneezing Jesus: How God Redeems Our Humanity

I’ve shared here before about how I use the Daily Audio Bible to listen to the Bible. And now, I’m also listening to Brian Hardin read his book, Sneezing Jesus, at the same site-and it’s free.

Sneezing Jesus: How God Redeems Our Humanity 

Brian Hardin, creator of Daily Audio Bible, reads from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs every day of the year. Beginning on March 25, 2020 and every 2-3 days thereafter, he has recorded a chapter from Sneezing Jesus.

In Sneezing Jesus, Brian Hardin journeys through vivid Gospel stories that point to a revolutionary truth: if Jesus took on normal humanity, then His death and resurrection didn’t just save our souls–they redeem our human lives on earth, here and now.

from the DAB website

At DAB there are versions available for kids and teens, and in multiple languages including Spanish, French, Arabic, and Japanese.

This post includes affiliate links, used to earn a commission from sales made through it. The funds are used for blog expenses and charitable donations.

How to listen

Accessing the DAB is easy – and FREE.

And that’s not all

Now there is another option- a daily devotional book to read along with the daily Bible readings.

The One Year Adventure with the God of Your Story by Brian Hardin

The daily devotional entries parallel the readings that Brian does each day.

Brian Hardin has been podcasting the Bible to hundreds of thousands for over a decade, leading people through the whole Bible every year. Now he’s putting his love of the daily reading of Scripture on to the page. In this collection of 365 readings, you’ll be surprised by how often what you read in the Bible will be a mirror into your own heart and motives.

Amazon

I also reading the devotional that parallels the daily Bible readings. But I want to share a quote from the January 5 entry, when Brian introduces the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. It’s one of my favorite passages of scripture and I’ve shared several blog posts using verses from it.

In Matthew’s gospel Jesus began to teach one of his foundational messages known as the Sermon on the Mount. This disruptive message describes a world that we long for but have no idea how to achieve-which may be the point.

 Jesus spoke of the countless blessings (the Beatitudes) for those who reach the end of their own strength and ability only to find God there. We are happiest when we depend on God for everything we are and everything we will ever be

Brian Hardin

The Daily Audio Bible is supported by donations and sales of products on the website. This blog gains no financial benefit from them and DAB did not compensate me for this blog post.

sharing faith, hope, and love with DAB

I hope you will listen to Sneezing Jesus along with me at Daily Audio Bible. It will only cost you a little time but I think you will find it a worthwhile investment.

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Dr. Aletha

Some posts from the Sermon on the Mount on this blog