- - Friday, April 22, 2016

Let’s be upfront and honest about justice. It’s hard to define, but even harder to live without.

As citizens of the United States, our understanding of justice will always be conditioned by our having lived in this great nation. Those who complain about rampant injustice here should remember that the vast majority of people living elsewhere on planet earth would emigrate to our nation in a heartbeat in order to live under our laws and Constitution.

Why? Because of our guaranteed freedoms and justice.

Of course, secularists would have us believe that immigrants mostly care about economics—good jobs and material prosperity. True, those factors certainly draw people to our shores. But even our economic system springs forth from a worldview of God-instituted justice. The soul of our economic system attracts people yearning for opportunity, legal protections, and fair play.

Here, when an individual works diligently and spends frugally, surplus cash results. They can invest that money in the stock market or a business, put it in the bank for safekeeping, or buy a piece of property. Risks and rewards lie around every corner—the person may triple their money in a year or lose it all in a week. But no matter the result, here in America they have the personal freedom to make these choices.

Is the system perfect? Of course not, but people all over the world want to come here and give it a try. They come here not for streets made out of gold, but to live in a country where the legal code has enshrined the Golden Rule—“Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” The second half of the Ten Commandments serve as the starting point for our civil and criminal laws.

For example, if your neighbor breaks in and steals the money and is caught, a judge will order restitution. But what it the neighbor belongs to organized crime and the local judge has been bribed? No restitution, no money—no justice. The “thou shalt not steal” (the eighth commandment) has been broken by the thief, the crime syndicate, and even the judge.

Corruption can also spring from legitimate business. A factory can choose to dump toxic pollutants into local rivers, knowing the environmental and health impacts but choosing greater profits over costly water treatments. Again, bribery may be to blame, as the person assigned to inspect the factory may be corrupt. Or, the inspectors may simply be understaffed for the task.

But a company owner—guided by a fear of God, justice, and love for neighbor—would not even ponder the thought, “I can get away with this.” He or she would simply do the right thing. When discovered, the corrupt owner pilloried, penalized, and imprisoned—and our justice-loving society would celebrate.

What makes a person open up a payday-loan business? Is it love for their neighbor? Would they hope that their brother, mother, or friend living in a far off city would turn to a predatory lender in time of need? Of course not. And so the person signing their name on the noose of the loan will in the end find no mercy, no justice. Their pressing need will become even greater because of the unscrupulous practices of the lender.

Although these unjust scenarios do happen here in the U.S., our culture still understands them to be so. At least for now, we become incensed about injustice, talk about it, and then we take action. We send legislators into capitol buildings to write laws that police will enforce and judges will adjudicate. All of these act in support of justice—thank God! And I mean that literally.

Yes, we have our work cut out for us. There are endless numbers of pressing social issues and challenges we face. But will the U.S. continue to understand and apply justice in the years to come? World history and current events around the world tell us this is not an assumption we should make.

A nation that runs from God will discover after a generation or two that justice was left behind as well. There has never been a culture devoid of a fear of God but also flush with justice.

As King Solomon said, “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely” (Proverbs 28:5).


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