Thursday, June 4

Work for justice

Scripture: Proverbs 30-31, Psalm 33, Ephesians 1

Proverbs 31:8–9 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.  9 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.

Observation

This is one of the “sayings of King Lemuel,” proverbs that his mother taught him that relate specifically to the king.  The king is to speak up for the voiceless, the poor and helpless, and ensure justice for the oppressed.  He is to use his authority on behalf of those who have none.  

Application

Government should use its authority for the benefit of the governed, especially for those who are marginalized, oppressed, crushed, poor and helpless.  

Historically, those in power have often used their power to further their own aims and even line their own pockets.  But this is not what God intends.  Power is to be used to help others, especially the powerless.  

But let’s move it beyond government, and talk about ourselves.  We are self-governed, so it’s easy to apply these words personally.  I am called, you are called to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves, for the poor and helpless, and to work for justice.  

Right now, the focus in our nation is on racial equity and justice.  Marching, protesting, and posting—all fine.  But if it ends there, we stop far short of the change we need.  That change is both deeply personal and systemic, and will require ongoing long-term effort and sacrifice.  Working for racial equity and justice will require at least four things of us.

First, we need to search our own hearts.  All of us.  Why?  Because everyone suffers from implicit bias.  And these biases are shifting and changing moment by moment.  Change starts with me—and that requires some honest and regular soul-searching.

Second, we need to educate ourselves.  If you want to fix a problem you have to understand it first.  Read good books that explain the history of racism.  Listen to the voices of those who have experienced it.  There are lots of excellent resources—I’ll be sharing some in the days to come.  Educate yourself.

Third, be the bridge.  Build friendships with people different than yourself.  Studies have shown that most people have few friends of a different race.  Racial issues become personal when they affect someone you love.  

Fourth, work for justice.  Racial inequity exists in virtually every system in America: education, economic opportunity, medical care, the justice system and law enforcement, the church, banking and housing, and on and on.  Laws and policies and practices need to change.  Find an area you care about and see if you can help.

The change we seek requires both personal and systemic change.  If we’re willing to stay engaged long term, we can make a difference—and we must.

Prayer: Lord, help each of us to care about what You care about, and to use what we have to work for justice for all.