Day 21: Proverbs 21: 15,16, 21
When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous
but terror to evildoers.
One who wanders from the way of good sense
will rest in the assembly of the dead.
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor.
- Justice is linked to the righteous in one way: JOY.
- Justice is linked to evildoers in another way: TERROR.
- The contrast of joy and terror emphasizes the very different lives experienced by the righteous and the evildoers.
- One can wander when one is not staying alert or mindful of one's path.
- Wandering from the way of good sense leads to resting in the assembly of the DEAD.
- This is contrasted to the LIFE one receives in vs. 21 when one pursues righteousness and kindness.
- To pursue something or someone involves intention and strategic living.
- It is interesting that one doesn't have to be "righteous" in order to pursue righteousness; it is the actual pursuing of righteousness that leads one to find righteousness.
- The pursuit of righteousness and kindness leads to life, righteousness and honor.
At the very center of God's heart is justice, kindness, and compassion. God cares deeply for the right, kind, and just treatment of His creatures and His creation. Read some examples from Scripture that show us glimpses of God's heart on this matter:
"This is what the Lord Almighty said: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.' (Zechariah 7:9-10)
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23)
According to the writer of Proverbs 21, justice being done leads to joy for the "righteous." We know that apart from God, we have no righteousness of our own. We are anything but righteous. Our righteousness comes from being in Christ, and His being in us. We are given, gifted, His righteousness. And there is something transforming about having the heart and mind of Christ working in us. He wrecks us! And in the process, our own hearts begin to break for the people and things for whom and which His heart breaks. Our passions, desires, and loves, come more into alignment with His passions, desires, and loves. As we live more and more into who we are as those placed in Jesus, our own hearts increase in joy as justice is done through us and around us.
For evildoers, those who pursue a life away from the Lord, justice is terrifying. Whether we belong to the Lord or not, we are all created in His image. Therefore, our sense of justice, what is right, what is evil, comes from Him. Deep down, the evildoer knows he is deserving of just consequences and punishment for his actions and evil heart. Only by God' grace do any of us escape what we truly deserve.
This way of righteous and honorable living is an intentional pursuit, not an aimless wandering. I must confess that my own life has more aimless wandering than it should. This Lent, may we pursue with intent righteousness and kindness. And as we do so, we are promised in Proverbs 21 that we will find life, righteousness, and honor. And belonging to Jesus, as those counted righteous, justice will be our joy!
Father God, give us your heart, a heart that loves justice. Give us the mind of you Son, Jesus, that we would be pursuers of righteousness and kindness. Protect us from the evil one who desires terror for us instead of joy. Continue to do your saving work in us that leads to our truly being all you have saved us to be. In the powerful Name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
- Deacon Lisa Schwandt