Thursday, August 10, 2017

Do what is just and right...

The prophet Jeremiah warns Judah of God's coming punishment, and he urges them to, "Do what is just and right..." (Jeremiah 22:3). The prophet goes on to explain what that means:
  • Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed.
  • Do no wrong or violence to the alien, fatherless, or widow.
  • Do not shed innocent blood.
  • Defend the cause of the poor and needy.
God expects his people to treat others as though they matter, as creatures created in the image of God. But history shows that people in power nearly always abuse it. It can be official power or informal power, but people always tend to treat their subordinates poorly.

That's why it's so rare to have a really good boss. It's why corruption always seeps into government. It's why corporations can't be trusted to put health and safety above profits.

I heard a man on the radio today describing his experience growing up in the Soviet Union. People in authority could never be trusted. In fact, he said, Russians can't imagine being treated fairly by the one who has power over them. They expect power to be used against them at every turn.

People matter. Even those who are powerless and needy matter. God expects his followers to treat all people with respect, especially those who are on the margins of society--the alien, the fatherless, the widow, the poor. It is so simple, but so hard to live. We need the Spirit of Jesus in us to do what is just and right. We can't do it on our own. He has to change us inwardly, and that is a life-long process.