The nation has been on edge for weeks as a grand jury in Ferguson, MO weighed the evidence in the case of a police shooting that took place in that community some months ago. The media coverage of the shooting and of the rioting that ensued has focused so much on the racial aspects of this story that the facts in the case have been difficult to discern. Agitators have done their best to frame this tragic event in terms of racial bigotry, and opportunists have taken advantage of the tension to loot and burn businesses. A small, but vocal segment made it clear that anything less than an indictment for murder against the police officer would be a miscarriage of justice. When the grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer was announced, rioting once again broke out in protest. This incident, like so many others that have taken place in our country, demonstrates how far we have sunk as a people from the principles of scripture.
Justice is often portrayed as a blindfolded woman holding a set of scales in one hand and a sword in the other. The blindfold symbolizes fairness in weighing the evidence so that both sides in the case receive an equitable hearing. It also indicates that the decision is to be made without regard for the status of either of the sides in the case. This is a principle based upon the commands of scripture.
In Lev. 19:15 the scripture says, “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly” (NIV). This is an important principle established by God in the Law of Moses. This provision was included in the Law because God foresaw that people tend to let their biases affect their decision making. The Lord God knew that some people would bend in favor of the wealthy or powerful. He also knew that some would bend in favor of the poor and weak in matters of law. Neither of these is acceptable to God. He demands that all decisions be made on the basis of truth. Only in this way will justice be served.
Our Lord Jesus Christ reinforced this principle during His earthly ministry. In Jn. 7:24, as He was facing an increasingly hostile crowd at the Feast of Booths, the Lord had to defend Himself because He had healed a man on the Sabbath. The Lord pointed out the hypocrisy of the Jews who were criticizing Him, because they themselves violated the Sabbath by circumcising on the Sabbath. Then He said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (NASB).
With statements from God the Father, and from Jesus His Son, there can be no doubt that justice is to be rendered without regard to the status of the opposing sides. Justice, by divine decree, is achieved when a judgment is based upon righteousness that fairly assesses either guilt or innocence. While we understand and admit that people sometimes make mistakes, this is not an excuse to pervert justice in favor of one side or another for any reason.
God commands that we must not pervert justice in any way. Therefore our desire should always be for truth to prevail in every circumstance. The only way that we can consistently accomplish this is to always follow the principles of God’s word in everything we do. If more people were willing to obey God’s directions in such matters, there would be far less injustice in our world, and we would all be better off. May it always be our practice to judge with righteous judgment.