Friday, May 18, 2012

Discernment to Understand Justice





Scripture

It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing.
(1 Kings 3:10 NASB)
God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice,
(1 Kings 3:11 NASB)
behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.
(1 Kings 3:12 NASB)

 

Observation


Solomon was a new and young king and he had the opportunity to ask God for anything. He didn't ask for "things" for himself but instead asked that he might have wisdom, or discernment to understand justice. This was a pleasing answer in God's sight. God gave him what he requested and Solomon became known as a very wise man.

 

Application

Often we simply read that Solomon asked for wisdom, but this translation's language is interesting. "The ability to discern justice!" We live in a day and age where we shy away from words like "justice" and specifically "social justice." However, it's fascinating that God would honor Solomon for making this request so that he would be able to act justly! The first story which is told later in this chapter is of the two women who both claim to be the mother of a baby boy. Solomon ends up with a "just" decision as God helps him to discern who is the real mother of the child. The people of the kingdom praise him for this act.

Sadly, we live in a world that does not really understand justice. What is just, or what is right? In the former Soviet Union we had many times where I became so frustrated at the corruption and I wondered whether there was any justice in the land! I remember one instance when we were purchasing a piece of property for the church and we had an agreement with the builders. This was a brand new building which was being built and we were essentially buying in faith -- we were purchasing "air" six stories up! It was quite a handsome some of money which was being invested and, they wanted it all in cash. We were concerned about using cash and asked them if they could provide us information on how to wire the money directly into their bank account. It took them weeks to get us the information on how to transfer the funds. We were able to finally transfer the funds, just days before the deadline. Sadly, they had not given us the correct information and our money sat at the Russian Central Bank. We had to work to get it retrieved electronically because the builders never could figure out how to give us their correct information. After retrieving the funds electronically, we had to fly someone to the Regional Office to pick up the entire amount in cash and bring it into the country. We were one day late with the payment because of all of the mistakes of the builders, which had cost us a great deal of money. We went to meet with the builders about a month after this payment was made and they had a new document for us. We were being "fined" for making our payment late. It was a percentage of the entire cost of the project and it was significant. I remember being so angry and frustrated with them. They had a young lady in charge of speaking with us so that they would not have to face us. We tried working through a lawyer and eventually we were told we could do nothing about it. Either we paid the additional "fine" or we would lose everything. I remember the day we sat in that office and I had to sign those papers that I was at fault for the delayed payment. I told the young woman that this was not justice! She looked at me and said very honestly, "There is no justice in Russia!" I wrote this across the bottom of the contract and then signed my name.

This is only one instance in Russia, but it was one of those things that we faced on a daily basis -- the corruption. I longed for justice! There are people in our world today who long for justice! There are those who are the marginalized of our world who are mistreated simply because of where they live, or to whom they were born, or because of their nationality, skin color or gender. Things really are not fair! I wonder what would happen if we, God's people, would join with Solomon in praying for "discernment to understand justice." Solomon had discernment to understand justice, and then he took action based on his discernment. If we are able to discern justice, are we then ready, willing and able to take action?

Justice is a part of God's nature and this is why it pleased God that Solomon made this request. Solomon wasn't asking about having earthly things, but rather he was asking whether he might become more like the very God who created him. It meant his mind was on the heavenlies! When we step into issues of justice with God, we cloak ourselves with the very nature of Christ who was concerned about the injustices that he saw in the world. The truth is that this is not an easy issue. It's often difficult to determine exactly where the need lies, or how to get to the root of the problem. This is why we have to pray for God's discernment, just as Solomon did. May we have the discernment to understand justice!

 

Prayer


Lord, please help me to know you better each day so that your sense of justice helps to lead me in the way I respond to the needs in the world. Amen.

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