It seems like more people than ever before are talking about justice. Once the province of social activists, a few religious leaders, and some politicians, justice is now a primary concern for many. But what exactly do we mean by the word? Everybody agrees that justice is important. We do not agree on what justice should look like in practice.
Justice was a major concern in Zechariah’s day too. In today’s passage, the Lord provides a snapshot of what justice should look like among God’s people. First of all, justice is grounded in truth (v. 16). Acts of injustice are always rooted in deceit. This emphasis on truth is coupled with a command to “render true and sound judgment in your courts.” True justice is impossible in a culture that does not value truth. Perhaps this is why the injunction about giving false testimony against your neighbor is included in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:16). Although the primary context of this command may be legal, it also has implications for ordinary relationships. A community that thrives on gossip will never be a just community. Even in those few instances where gossip is not an exaggeration or outright falsehood, it aims to condemn rather than correct. Biblical truth, on the other hand, is always motivated by love (Eph. 4:15).
The third mark of justice is relational. Those who are committed to justice will not “plot evil against each other” (v. 17). This command is all about intent. Those who value biblical justice not only look out for their interests, they also seek after the well-being of others (Phil. 2:4). The fourth mark, a hatred of false swearing, may seem out of place in this list or at least redundant. However, false swearing isn’t only about the truth. It is about keeping our commitments.
How do you live out God’s value of justice? Jesus captured the way we are to practice justice in a single command: loving your neighbor as yourself. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). Consider how you can live justly today.