As a criminal defense attorney, I consistently sought justice. Even where a client violated the law, justice required due process and a “not guilty” finding where they had violated a statute was just if due process was satisfied. The cost of freedom is the benefit of the doubt afforded by due process.
Many of us believe that justice is limited to a particular situation so we evaluate case by case to determine if a person’s actions brought about appropriate consequences. When we have an expectation of what justice should look like and that expectation isn’t met, we can be offended, hurt and angry. Our expectations are subjective, so the potential for disappointment is pretty high.
What if justice is not ours to own? Other than specific delegated authority, what if our opinions regarding justice should be narrowed to only ourselves? Micah 6:8 speaks to our perspective of justice, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
The burden for justice in that passage, and more broadly, is to do what is right. In fact, according to that passage, our two responsibilities for action are to act justly and walk humbly. Those are the two first-person action oriented responsibilities contained in the passage. The third person relational responsibility is to love mercy. Mercy is kind of the flip side of the justice coin.
Is forgiveness anything more than the release of our need for justice? When we no longer need there to be an equitable or even fair outcome, but instead we love with mercy, doesn’t that facilitate true, heart level forgiveness?
The interaction of the three requirements of the Lord found in the Micah passage interact wonderfully. We act in ways that are just towards others while in humble relationship with God. In other words, we love God and love people. When people don’t necessarily do they same for us, or when our subjective evaluation of justice is that they haven’t done the same for us, we love them with mercy. We love them with the mercy He gives us.
If we impose a burden that others should act justly, we’ve twisted the Scripture. How they act only requires our loving mercy. When we are able to pull this off, we cannot be offended. Walking in humility with God leads us to this place of not placing burdens of our subjective perspective of justice on others and allows us to simply love.