This site uses cookies to provide you with more responsive and personalized service and to collect certain information about your use of the site.  You can change your cookie settings through your browser.  If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies.  See our Privacy Policy for more information.

Righteousness and Justice

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.

Apply the Word

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.

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

Browse Devotions by Date