A Desire for Justice

Dear Reader,

I think we humans have a built-in desire for justice. It can go wrong in a lot of ways of course as we are sinful people. But I also think we see it come out in some ways.

I have a friend who has been through a somewhat contentious divorce. She never would have wanted to be divorced but her husband had an affair (and is still with the other woman). He fights supporting his children at every step and puts them in the middle emotionally. So she had to resort to the courts to end her marriage (because it was the only way she could get child support from him) and then to force him to pay and to stop harassing her at every step. Throughout the process she has been frequently (and understandably) frustrated. Her lawyer has often had to counsel her to let things go, to pick her battles, and to bide her time. The courts will often not step in until child support is very delinquent. And their goal overall is to produce compromise. But in her heart my friend often just wants justice. She needs the money for her kids but sometimes she just doesn’t care about money anymore. What she wants is for someone in authority to step in and just say her ex-husband is wrong. She wants justice and a proclamation of judgment. It is not that she doesn’t know in her head that his behavior is wrong, but she needs someone official to say it.

Our pastor in his last sermon, which was on the commandment not to steal, mentioned those who file frivolous lawsuits or lawsuits which have a basis but ask for much, much too much in compensation. He gave the example of a woman whose husband had died through a hospital’s error. He praised her for suing just for the income she missed from him and not for exorbitant damages beyond that amount. Now I don’t know this woman and I am not criticising her choice. But when I envision myself in such a situation, I think that I would want mor than that. The loss of a spouse is more than the loss of income. And beyond that, I think that what many people want is justice. It is not necessarily about the money (certainly for some people it is but I hope not for everyone). It is about someone saying to the one who has wronged you, “You are wrong.” The money is not always an end in itself but is a way of saying, “You need to repay me for the wrongs you have done.” The greater the wrong, the greater the payment.

Of course as Christians, we are called to forgive as we have been forgiven. To forgive means that although you are owed a debt, although someone has cost you something, whether money, pride or something else, that you are willing to bear that cost and let their debt go. Jesus took on the cost of our sin and paid the price for us. But it is also important to remember that God does not overlook wrongs. Every sin must be paid for. He is a just as well as a merciful God and He has placed a shadow of His own justice in our hearts.

Nebby

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