The Nature of Justice
Job 31:16 ¶ “If I have withheld anything that the poor desired,
or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,
Job 31:17 or have eaten my morsel alone,
and the orphan has not eaten from it—
Job 31:18 for from my youth I reared the orphan like a father,
and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow—
Job 31:19 if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,
or a poor person without covering,
Job 31:20 whose loins have not blessed me,
and who was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep;
Job 31:21 if I have raised my hand against the orphan,
because I saw I had supporters at the gate;
Job 31:22 then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder,
and let my arm be broken from its socket.
Job 31:23 For I was in terror of calamity from God,
and I could not have faced his majesty.
Job is defending himself before his “friends.” One of them has suggested that he is being punished for his behavior, or injustice toward the poor and needy. This, however, has not been the case. Here, hundreds of years before the incarnate Christ walks on earth, Job is displaying a life which reflects the very character of God. He has not withheld good from the poor or widow. He has extended hospitality to those who were needy — to the widow and the orphan. He has fed them and clothed and protected them.
His language is interesting when he declares “If I have raised my hand against the orphan then” …. “let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder, and let my arm be broken from its socket.” In other words — had his arm been offensive to those in need, then led his arm be ripped from him. Every part of his being is to ooze with the justice of God toward those who are in need.
Integrity through acts of justice become evident in this scripture. We can learn from the way in which Job has lived his life. It is these acts which reveal the presence of God in his life, and so they should in ours as well.
We are to give to the poor
Support the widow (never make her situation worse!)
Show hospitality to the orphan
Guide the widow through the systems and help them the resources they need to improve their situation
Provide clothing for those in need
Never do anything to hurt those in need
Don’t ignore the needy because you have found yourself in a position of power
We are called to be stewards of the resources God has provided to us. Over and over again we see the nature of God being reflected in characters found in the Old Testament. Job is one of those who is an example for us which spurs us onward to actions in our own lives. Job tried to do this on his own, without the powerful presence of God’s Holy Spirit in his life. Just imagine what is possible for us living in this day!
Acts of justice are required of God’s people because God’s Spirit lives within us and compels us to respond in the same way in which God would respond. The nature of justice will never lift a hand against the needy but will always seek the good of others. This is the reflection of Christ in us.
Lord, may you be reflected in my life as your resources are used to bring your justice to a needy world. Amen.