Equity and every good path.
10 When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
11 Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
Proverbs 2:9-11 (NLT) 9 Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,
and you will find the right way to go.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will fill you with joy.
11 Wise choices will watch over you.
Understanding will keep you safe.
In my last study on Proverbs 2:1-10, we talked about seeking wisdom, desiring it. You can pray those first 10 verses for yourself to ask God for His wisdom.
Psalm 25:8-9 8 Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore He shows sinners the way.
9 He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them His way.
It is only with God's wisdom that we will discern what is "right, just and fair."
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
you will discern - תָּ֭בִין (tā·ḇîn) - Verb - Qal - Imperfect - second person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 995: To separate mentally, understand
righteousness - צֶ֣דֶק (ṣe·ḏeq) - Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 6664: The right, equity, prosperity
Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon adds righteousness, as ethically right
and justice - וּמִשְׁפָּ֑ט (ū·miš·pāṭ) - Conjunctive waw | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 4941: A verdict, a sentence, formal decree, divine law, penalty, justice, privilege, style
and equity - וּ֝מֵישָׁרִ֗ים (ū·mê·šā·rîm) - Conjunctive waw | Noun - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 4339: Evenness, prosperity, concord, straightness, rectitude
Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon adds uprightness and equity in an ethical sense
every - כָּל־ (kāl-) - Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's Hebrew 3605: The whole, all, any, every
good - טֽוֹב׃ (ṭō·wḇ) - Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 2896: Pleasant, agreeable, good
path - מַעְגַּל־ (ma‘·gal-) - Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's Hebrew 4570: An entrenchment, track
You can go to law school and get your law degree, but that only means you've learned facts. You can learn how to research a case; present a case; what documentation you need; learn about courtroom procedures; and, how tos. But you still haven't learned how to walk and administer what is right, just and fair. You need God to help you judge rightly, with equity and true justice.
Godly wisdom in matters of ethics and justice is desperately needed in our world today. Why? Because no human being can possibly know all the variables involved in every situation. We are not mind readers and we can't know everything. But God does and He knows when to show mercy and when to be firm. He knows when discipline will work on someone to change their ways and when it won't. He knows when it's right to put to death someone for the greater good and when it's right to show mercy. To do it right, you still need God.
Too often people either rely on the letter of the law; they rely on their ability to interpret the law; or, they downright corrupt the law, deliberately and with malice.
By relying on the letter of the law, people are essentially saying the Law is their god. They think they can make a law to fit every situation and then rely on it rather than rely on God and ask for His wisdom. There is no commonsense, no understanding, no discernment. There is the Law, the facts of the case, the punishment... no need for God.
If you've never read the 1862 novel, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, you should. And read it before you go see the musical. It examines the nature of law and grace. The main character is Jean Valjean who is released from 19 years of prison for stealing bread for his starving family. Wherever he goes, he is required to show his yellow passport which marks him as a former convict. Of course, everyone is afraid of him and run him out of village after village. He is becoming angry and bitter, until he finds a a Bishop Myriel who takes him for supper and a bed for the night. While there under Bishop Myriels' hospitality, he sees the Bishop's silver candlesticks and silverware. In the night, he gets up and sneaks down to steal the silverware and runs off. Inspector Javert captures Valjean and brings him to the Bishop. The Bishop denies the theft and even tells Jean he forgot the silver candlesticks too. Javert has to let Valjean go and Javert leaves. The Bishop then tells Valjean to take the silver and use it to become an honest man and Valjean does. The rest of his life is helping others. He uses the silver and begins a business that does very well, making him wealthy. No one knows he is Jean Valjean, they believe him to be Monsieur Madeleine. He even becomes mayor of the village. One of the workers he hires is a consumptive named Fantine who is being bullied in the streets. She has a daughter named Cosette whom she leaves in the care of a family named the Thenardiers and pays them to take care of her. Only, the family harshly abuse the girl and treat her like a slave. Meanwhile Fantine is finally fired because she is so sick she cannot work. She is abused in the streets by a young man whom she strikes and she is arrested for it. Jean Valjean intervenes and takes her in and nurses her until she dies. She tells him about Cosette. Meanwhile, a different man has been identified as Jean Valjean and confesses to a crime and is to be tried. Javert has found out that Monsieur Madeleine is really Jean Valjean and he tells Valjean an innocent man is going to be convicted. Valjean cannot let an innocent man die so he reveals his true identity and that he is an ex-convict hiding under an alias. He is sentenced to death and the sentence commuted to life. He is able to escape by faking his death and goes looking for little Cosette. He finds her and realizes she's been abused and mistreated. He tells the family he will take Cosette and pays them an exorbitant sum. He leaves, taking Cosette, but the Thenardier decides there may be more money where that came from and begins to demand more money but Valjean and Cosette escape to Paris. They live a private life and she goes to school. She meets Marius Pontmercy who is a liberal that has become involved in an attempted political revolt. They fall in love and the family who had abused little Cosette reappears on the scene in plots to hurt Cosette and Valjean. In the end, Valjean learns of Marius' love for Cosette, yet he is involved in the revolt and in danger. So Valjean goes to help Marius and is in time to save Inspector Javert's life by offering to take him off and execute him but he shoots in the air and let's Javert go. Marius is injured and unconscious. Valjean carries him to safety through the sewers. As he emerges from the sewers there is Inspector Javert waiting to arrest him. Valjean asks him to allow him to take Marius home first. Javert walks the streets realizing he is caught between the letter of the law and the mercy of God. He cannot justify one to the other in his mind. If he shows mercy, he is betraying the law and the job he has as a policeman. If he follows the law, he is convicting a good man to certain execution, a man who saved his life. He feels a great duty to the law and to the authorities but he knows, in this case, it is wrong. Unable to cope with the dilemma, he commits suicide. When Marius finds out Valjean is an ex-convict and is an escapee, he is horrified and tells Valjean to leave Cosette alone. Valjean loses the desire to live and is near death when Marius comes to his senses. He and Cosette go to his bedside and are reconciled before Valjean dies.
There are people out there who would make the Law their god, as did Inspector Javert. As long as the law tells them what to do, they don't have to ask God for wisdom. They rely solely on the Law and legal proceedings without seeking God about what is really right/wrong, fair/unfair, just/unjust. "It's not my responsibility, I'm just following the law".
Then there are those who rely on their interpretation of the law. In this case, they become their own gods. What makes sense to them, and benefits them, is their reasoning. Again, no human being can know everything but these people think they do. They like playing God and having power over other people. They use the law and legal proceedings to do what they want to do. Lawsuits are bread and butter to them. They almost make a professional career of tying up the courts. They sue because they want money. They sue because they want to be malicious and hurt people they don't like. They sue to get revenge on someone. They sue because they like to sue. They use the Law as a bullying weapon or to extort money.
And, finally, there are people who deliberately corrupt the law and use the justice system to feather their own nests, make money, gain power, or make their careers. They love playing the game to see how far they can go in corruption without being caught or facing consequences. They walk softly but carry the big stick of the Law to scare people into taking what they want. Usually these are people within the justice system. Attorneys, judges, law practises, politicians, policemen, politicians who make laws, even judicial staff members who keep their eye out for ways to subvert the laws to make money or move up the ladder to success. They take bribes, they look the other way, they warn criminals for payoffs, they take criminal clients and finagle the Law to get them off. Many law practises make a good living from helping companies find loopholes. There are lobbying consultants who make good money off of applying the right kind of "pressure" on lawmakers to get what they want for their clients. There are lawmakers who take money for votes and wiggle around in the system to make fortunes. They don't care the least wit about the little people, all they care about is getting what they want and avoiding any consequences for getting it. The know they are robbing the taxpayers and they don't care.
1 Corinthians 6:1-11 (NIV) 1 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men a 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Let's read it again in a more modern version:
1 Corinthians 6:1-11 (NLT) 1 When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers! 2 Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? 3 Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. 4 If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? 5 I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues? 6 But instead, one believer sues another—right in front of unbelievers!
7 Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers.
9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
It's pretty specific that Christians should not be tying up courts and the legal system for frivolous civil lawsuits. We should be able to work things out respectfully and calmly between ourselves through mediation and arbitration. And then we should know when to walk away even if it means a loss to us.
If you’re sued by a non-Christian, you may not have an opportunity to seek reconciliation and resolution anywhere except in a court of law and you should defend yourself.
Romans 13:1-7 (NLT) 1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. 2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. 3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. 4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. 5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
The government should be a service to us. One that helps, protects and takes care of justice matters. But we are not to abuse the system or take advantage of the system for frivolous and greedy purposes. We are to be properly respectful, thankful and participative in that we obey the laws and pay our taxes. We should not abuse government workers but be respectful and helpful. That means the police, the courts, the court staff, the justices, the parking lot attendants. They are doing their jobs.
What about our government, or government representatives and staff, who abuse us? Those who demand bribes, corrupt the system, use their power for tyranny over one or many? Obedience is to God first. We are to realize that, as Christians, we are first and foremost citizens of God's kingdom. We are commanded to be peacemakers but we are also commanded to help others. There is a balance and God is in the balance so we must seek God to reach that balance.
And we are back to our scripture today. It is imperative to seek God and His wisdom to know what to do in all the different situations each of us come to. Sometimes it's an easy decision to make. But sometimes it's much more difficult and many shades of gray and complications with results. We must guard against trying to play God and we must guard against pride, deceit, greed, and corruption. We must seek God to walk our way through a worldly minefield and be able to do what we feel God would have us to do and then leave the results in His very capable Hands.
- As you read this, did some examples come to your mind? Have you seen violations and abuses on either side of the justice system?
- Have you ever said, "If so-and-so would just have done this..."? Boy, I have! Does that indicate you are judging someone? Or do you think, if they listened to you, the results would be better? as in control? as in playing God? Or maybe you are having difficulty trusting God about the situation and the results?
- Have you sought God's wisdom on a matter before? Maybe you never thought about asking God for wisdom about mundane matters and this is new to you.
- Have you struggled with seeking God's wisdom about something and then allowing Him to work without your help? It's one thing to be obedient to His commands, and it's something else to finagle, manipulate, try to control or worry something to death.
- Did it shock you to read 1 Corinthians 6:1-11? Would you be willing to take a loss if it meant God was telling you it was time to walk away?
- Have you ever abused the system? Repentance is just a prayer away.
- Have you ever abused government employees or politicians? Maybe you should ask God to give you a respectful attitude. Even if you don't agree with them, it's no cause to be abusive.
- Why isn't the Law enough?
- Why isn't knowledge (education) enough?
- Why do we need to seek God's wisdom in order to be right, fair and just?
For all my studies on Proverbs click HERE.