We often discuss far more life as an internal richness rooted in a right understanding of God and His interactions with us. But far more life is not limited to us; God wants our richness to overflow and touch others. This post examines the impact far more life has on our pursuit of justice.
You should set your hearts on the highest spiritual gifts, but I will show you what is the highest way of all…love (I Corinthians 12:31-13:1, PHILLIPS)
The best motive for seeking justice is love. Love for: those who were wronged; those who acted wrongly; others who have been or may later be hurt by this offender; and love for God. God’s love working through us allows us to love multiple parties involved while seeking justice.
Love protects us from acting maliciously against those who hurt others or oppressing the oppressors. Love allows us to experience and model far more life so we do not respond unjustly.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (I Corinthians 1:3, NIV)
Humans can accomplish amazing things: make life-changing speeches that motivate people; understand complex issues that make the impossible possible; and offer costly sacrifices to benefit others. But, unless our motivation is love, our efforts are worthless and accomplish nothing of lasting value.
So what does love that pursues justice look like? I Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV) offers these insights:
Love is patient. Other translations use “never gives up” or “suffers long”. Justice does not happen immediately. Sometimes it takes a lifetime. Loving justice is engaged for the long haul, step by step.
Love is kind. Injustice can tempt us to be unkind. But love prompts us to be useful and practical, meeting the needs we observe. A loving pursuit of justice demonstrates far more life by acting in ways that are constructive and helpful.
Love does not envy. We may be jealous of others’ situations that get a faster or more satisfying result. This can distract us and hinder our love. Loving justice rejoices for the justice others have received. Loving justice is motivated by a desire for right outcomes because they are right, not because others received them.
Love does not boast. It is not proud. It is not self-seeking. Parents of preschoolers often hear “look at me!” Over and over. Young children are exuberant about the things they are learning and want their achievements to be recognized. But justice-seeking love does not pursue personal praise or recognition. It pursues praise for God, the creator of justice, and the fulfillment of His will on earth. God-glorifying justice motivated by love is a noble pursuit.
Love does not dishonor others. Loving justice does not tear down others to make the one who was wronged look better. The actions of the oppressor speak for themselves as dishonorable, wrong, and evil. Love prompted by far more life is not afraid to speak the truth, but is focused on a righteous outcome rather than character assassination.
Love is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Far more life helps us let a lot of things go. It is not easily offended and does not hold grudges. It knows God sees every sin and will deliver complete justice, so we are freed from keeping track. Loving justice helps us distinguish when to speak up against wrongs and when to entrust them to God. Both are rooted in love and a desire for righteousness.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. I think of the familiar saying, “Two wrongs do not make a right.” Loving justice does not seek to get even or inflict pain on the offender; it mourns all forms of evil. It does not exaggerate or spin the story. It seeks for everyone to experience righteousness, whether through blessing or just punishment from just authorities. It celebrates true remorse and genuinely changed lives. It values each person as being made in God’s image and having the opportunity to humble themselves and ask forgiveness.
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. This verse speaks to the heart of far more life. Loving justice hopes in God’s righteousness and trusts His perfect justice. It perseveres because it knows He will ultimately overcome evil and set everything right. It always protects, wanting everyone to experience the blessing of a relationship with God; but this is not a blind protection that hides evil. Rather it keeps love at the forefront in deciding what, when, and how to share. This is lived out when family members of those who have been oppressed beg others to not take the law into their own hands. They seek to protect some from doing evil and others from being hurt by evil. They trust that authorities (human and/or God) will deliver just punishment. Their hope is in God, and they persevere in seeking righteousness as they patiently await justice.
Love never fails. Far more life knows that God never fails and following His instructions will never fail us. Love is the highest way, the best and purest motive in pursuing justice.
What makes love the best motive for seeking justice?
Which characteristics of love have you experienced from others when you acted wrongly?
Which have you shown those who wronged you?
How are you tempted to pursue unloving “justice”?
What barriers keep you from trusting that God’s justice will ultimately prevail?
Thank God for the richness of far more life that empowers you to love justly!
Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso