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“Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? . . . Far be that from you!  Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”  Genesis 18:23, 25

In this life every one of us experiences injustice.  The Judge of all the earth never treats us unjustly.  But we treat one another unjustly.  The complication is, of course, that we don’t always agree on who is being treated unjustly by whom.  It’s hard enough to chart a just path forward in conflict; but with this complication, which is almost inevitable, an outcome satisfying to everyone becomes that much more elusive.

So let’s say you and I have been mistreated in a given situation.  A bitter experience.  Especially when the injustice is perpetrated by the powerful, the privileged.  But immediately, a wonderful thought comes to mind.  Jesus experienced it too.  That awareness alone is the beginning of comfort.  But what else can we keep in mind?  For starters:

One, realistically, sinners cannot see what they don’t want to see.  So there is no point in trying to get people to see the wrong they have done.  It doesn’t work.  Logically, it should.  Psychologically, it doesn’t.  A wise person accepts this reality as part of living in a fallen world.  The pomos are right.  A slogan like “Justice for all” can be code language for “My side won, so deal with it.”  It’s wrong.  But a lot of life is wrong.

Two, what can intensify the experience of injustice is the underlying fear that the injustice has rendered our lives unlivable, unthinkable, intolerable.  But that is not true.  The truth is, suffering injustice can make our lives more fruitful, more beautiful, more useful.  Jesus’ life was strongly marked by mistreatment.  It’s in that place of being wronged that we can display Jesus more powerfully to a world needing to be set free from its compulsive violence.  Injustice is a new beginning, for anyone following Jesus.  Frederick William Faber:

Then learn to scorn the praise of men, and learn to lose with God,
For Jesus won the world through shame and beckons thee his road.

Three, nobody is getting away with anything.  Not here in God’s universe.  This is axiomatic – and it should solemnize us all.  It is possible to pursue the correction of an injustice with still more injustice, and thus make the situation worse and draw guilt down upon oneself.  Moral fervor can be our darkest, blindest emotion.  May God keep us in his grace.

Four, wait on the Lord.  This is biblical.  But it is hard, because our faith in him is sometimes weak.  But here is the truth our small faith can cling to.  God might not resolve the injustice in this life – he certainly will in the next life – but he can wonderfully use the injustice in this life for the blessing of others, if we will wait on him.  The stirring testimonies of millions of believers confirm this.  Corrie Ten Boom: “There is no pit so deep but Christ is deeper still.”

Five, the approval of God is infinitely more satisfying than the approval of man.  What if you did receive the restitution due to you?  Would it satisfy, compared with Jesus’ love and nearness and friendship?  The real injury of injustice is not at the financial or social or professional or even physical level.  The real injury strikes at the soul.  It attacks our personal dignity.  But people never gave us our worth to begin with.  Human injustice can harm, but human justice cannot heal.  It should do what it can, of course (Luke 19:8-9; Acts 26:19-20).  But within ourselves, in our deepest beings, here is the wonderful reality: “He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3).


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4 thoughts on “The Judge of all the earth”

  1. George Wisley says:

    Great post Ray! thank you!

  2. Jared Wilson says:

    Both liberating and empowering. Thank you, Ray.

    It is satisfying to know that God will leave no loose ends.

  3. Mike says:

    Great post!

    “The approval of God is infinitely more satisfying than the approval o man.” Any scriptures on this would be very helpful to me. Thanks!

  4. peter d says:

    Ray
    This is great and so timely for me. I have been hurt at church recently and my “pride” has been suffering, not getting the “credit” I deserved ! I quickly repented the sin unto God but the
    pride still hangs on. You have given me several good reasons to get over it.
    Thanks Ray !!
    Pete

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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