top of page


We instinctively rail against injustice. Whether it’s alleged government or corporate corruption, income or gender inequality, racism, or flagrant law-breaking, we decry the inequity. Particularly in Australia, where we have a tradition of a “fair go” for everyone, we hate to see unfairness. Criminals should be brought to justice. The innocent should be vindicated and victims should not be blamed. We need to be confident in a legal system that will arrive impartially at the truth and dispense recompense fairly and appropriately. We want to see veterans and Aussie battlers taken care of, but no one should be able to rort the system. We hate to see people getting ripped off, we abhor hypocrisy.

Yet it seems that the world is anything but just. There are countries where it is illegal to hold certain religious beliefs or to question the government. There are countries where nothing can be accomplished without working a system of graft and corruption. There are countries where the poor will never get ahead, because they have no education, no employment opportunities, no influence. There are countries where the injustices of past generations are revisited upon current generations, as if two wrongs could possibly make a right. There are countries where the self-interest of a few overrides the good of the many. Where the quality of legal defence is dependent on the lawyers one can afford, or where a presumption of guilt or innocence may be largely dependent on the colour of one’s skin. Where people seek recourse to frivolous litigation rather than taking responsibility for their own choices. Our desire for justice stems from the sense within us that there are indeed moral absolutes, that some things are right and some things are wrong. We may disagree on the precise details, but fairness and justice are acknowledged as ideals of universal appeal.

But if we are honest with ourselves, none of us are truly impartial when it comes to justice. We are prone to seek mitigating circumstances and excuses for our own behaviour, and less inclined to make allowances for others. When it comes to ourselves, we prefer mercy to justice, but wen it comes to others we too often prefer justice over mercy.That, of course, is hypocrisy and it’s a very human trait. True justice and fairness applies morality and the law even-handedly.

So we see a tension within ourselves as individuals and within our societies. We have an innate sense of what is right and just and fair, but we are not very good at applying it indiscriminately and consistently. How do we explain this? The Bible addresses the issue frankly. As humans made in the image of God, we have been implanted with a sense of right and wrong, with a moral compass. Ultimately, this should refer to what our Creator says is right and wrong; after all, he designed us to work best in a certain way. But we reject God’s claims over us and prefer to establish our own private and individual moral compasses. We want autonomy, to decide for ourselves how to live our lives, and not answer to a higher authority. The problem is, when several billion humans sharing the one planet each want to live by their own rules, their own moral code, what we want will often be incompatible with what others want, or what might be good for the whole. This is selfishness, of course, and it leads to gross inequity and unfairness because the power to get what we want is not equally distributed. We tend to have one set of rules for ourselves and those we love and who are “like us”, and different rules for those who are Other. Ultimately, the injustice and unfairness in the world comes down to this selfish human autonomy, which the Bible calls sin.

Like the word “sin,” its opposite, the word “righteousness” is apt to make people cringe. They seem such antiquated, moralistic, holier-than-thou terms, even though they embody more acceptable terms like injustice versus justice, wrong versus right, selfishness versus altruism. But “sin” encompasses everything that is against God and what he determines to be right; everything that challenges his authority as our Maker and Sustainer. Ultimately, all selfishness, immorality, injustice and unfairness is rooted in sin. Conversely, the word “righteousness” in the Bible (dikaios) is the same root word as “justice.” To be righteous is to live rightly, to be just. Interestingly, while we might make a distinction between justice and mercy, especially to whom they are extended, the Bible sees no incompatibility between the two.

The prophet Micah in the Old Testament asked what God really required of him, what he could possibly do to please a just and holy God. Here is God’s response: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). The word “kindness” here is the same word (hesed) also translated “mercy.” God is both merciful and just, and he requires us to be both merciful and just as well. How does God deal with sin and injustice and their attendant evils and how does that involve us? The answer lies in what God has already done in the past, what he is currently doing, and what he ultimately will do.

The God of the Bible is so concerned about both justice and mercy that he personally entered into humanity’s plight. The Son of God took on flesh and lived on earth as the man Jesus Christ. He demonstrated the love and justice of God in his teachings and in his acts of mercy and rightness. Then, he was tried and crucified, the most humiliating and excruciating death devised, in the most unjust act ever perpetrated? Why? What good could possibly come of the unjust death of a righteous man? God, in the person of Jesus, achieved victory over sin and its consequences, death, by taking the sins of the world upon himself and the punishment due them. In this way, God poured out his just wrath on all the unrighteousness of mankind, yet opened the way for mercy upon all who accept his forgiveness through Jesus. In this great act, God was both just (righteous) in condemning sin, and justifier of sinners. Justification means we are made righteous (just) by the death and resurrection of Jesus. His justice (righteousness) covers our injustice (unrighteousness) if we accept this gracious gift. The apostle Paul explains it:

“The righteousness of God (has been revealed) through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-26)

The second way God deals with injustice and shows mercy is in his work in the world today. God doesn’t want people to perish, which they will do if their receive the just desert of the sin and unrighteousness/injustice. Rather, he wants to be merciful. But he will not compromise his justice. So he has delayed the final judgement somewhat (for how long, we don’t know; the Bible doesn’t say). The apostle Peter explains that God’s day of judgement is coming, but people scoff at that. His response is: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God wants to save, he wants to extend his mercy through Christ, and he offers that chance now to anyone who will take it. God’s people, those who have accepted his promise of forgiveness and life, are called to act as lights in the world, to perform acts of mercy, to love others as God has loved us. God has also provided the Bible to teach by instruction and example what constitutes goodness, righteousness and justice, as opposed to wickedness, evil and injustice, and he calls people to follow his good rules for living. “Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness,” are enshrined in the laws of many nations. Christians, for all their failings, have been and must continue to be, an influence for good in the world. When we do live as God requires, we show forth his justice and his mercy and can help in some small way to mitigate present suffering.

The final way God deals with injustice will be future. He has promised that the current inequitable, unfair state of the world will not continue. Even though evil seems to prevail, with corruption, immorality, injustice and inequality, this is only temporary. The wicked will get their just deserts. There will be a day of reckoning. Peter explained to the crowd shortly after Jesus’ resurrection: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31). The same divine man, Jesus Christ, who took our sins upon himself on the cross and offers mercy to all who turn to him, will come again in judgement. He will call all people who have ever lived to account, according to what they have done with their lives. there will be no secrets; he knows the heart of everyone (John 2:25; Romans 2:16). No “special commission” will be required. All will be laid bare. Christ’s judgment will be totally just and impartial, totally fair. Jesus is qualified to be the judge because as Son of God and Son of Man he is both divine and human; he has walked in our shoes, given his life for us and has all authority, being one with his Father:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:25-30).

He will not be interested in how much money, political influence, popularity, or worldly accomplishments anyone has. The criteria will be how each person has responded to God’s justice and mercy in joining themselves to Christ or shunning him, and how they have treated their fellow human beings (Matthew 25:31–46). Psalm 10 is a lament about the prevalence of wickedness and injustice n the world; the wicked pursue the poor; they are boastful and greedy and ignore God. Despite this, the wicked seem to prosper, they deny that God will call them to account, but the Psalmist knew that this would not be the case for ever; God sees and he knows. He will ultimately call the wicked to account and bring justice to the oppressed. The final words if the Bible, in Jesus’ Revelation to John, portray Jesus as the coming judge, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, faithful and true, who judges justly. To those who are clothed with his righteousness he will grant eternal life where there will be no more injustice, no more tears, no more hunger or poverty or shame. Free from all lying, hypocrisy, inequity and unfairness, the final judgement of God will at last bring full justice and mercy. If you desire justice in this world, it lies with God.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page