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  • Paul M. Wilmoth

Just, Justice, Justly

The word just is defined as “based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair” • (of treatment) deserved or appropriate in the circumstances • (of an opinion or appraisal) well founded; justifiable.” Justice is a noun defined to mean “just behavior or treatment • the quality of being fair and reasonable” (all definitions are from the On-Line Dictionary). Justly is an adverb describing the action of being just or doing justice.

These are all biblical words. The word just appears at least 55 times in the Old Testament and 35 times in the New Testament; justice appears 38 times in the Old Testament alone and justly is used 3 times. That is a total of 131 times. It seems apparent to this scribe that the idea of behaving according to what is morally right and fair, doing only what is deserved in our treatment of those with whom we come in contact, and making sure that our opinions are well-founded are principles the Holy Spirit thought to be vital in guiding the writing of the Holy Scriptures.

In Micah 6:8, Micah mentions “to do justly” as the first of his three things that the Lord requires. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Jesus said much the same thing in Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” In the passage in Micah, “to do justly” or justice is listed as one of the three things God requires; in Jesus' statement “justice” is listed as one of the “weightier matters” of the law. Do not these statements indicate that some things are more important than others and that doing what is just―treating others justly―is one of those things that is vitally important in the sight of God?

When you observe the behavior of the world in general today, it appears that these are qualities that are lacking to a large extent in the present age. What is required of me if I am to “do justly?” To “do justly” is to give to all their due.

To God, His due is expressed in Matthew 22:37: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” This is God's due and right from every man. To do less is to fail to be “just” toward God. God's due is also stated by Solomon: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole of man” (Ecc. 12:13). Are you doing “justly” when it comes to God? Are you giving God His due? The obvious answer for the vast majority of the world is a resounding “NO!”

To your “neighbor” (those with whom you come in contact) you are also to give his due; you do this by doing to him as you would have him do to you in every instance (Matt. 7:12). We often refer to this as the “golden rule.” But how many of us actually practice this rule; how many of us “do justly” when it comes to expressing our opinions about others? Go back and look at the definitions. How often do members of the church criticize their brethren “unjustly?” Have you ever criticized the elders or the preacher or other members of the church for not doing something when you have never done it yourself? Is that “just?” Is it “just” to be selfish and hypocritical in our judgments of others? You be the judge.

And don't forget you owe to yourself to “do justly.” You have the responsibility of not depriving thy soul of what God has provided for it; to keep thy body in self-control, in sobriety, and chastity, avoiding all excesses both in action and passion. You are not being “just” with yourself unless you are striving to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (I John 1:7), and putting “first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

After a proper and fair (just) evaluation of your life as it relates to God, your fellow man, your fellow Christians, and even to yourself, are you “doing justly” today? It is easy to judge the other man and fail to “do justly.” But let's try it on ourselves and see how it fits.

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