God is both loving and just (Dan 4:37; I Jn 4:8-10).
Sin is a crime against God that has consequences – “The soul that sins will die” (Ezek 18:4,20). The justice of God is satisfied by the death of Jesus and the application of the blood to those who accept His salvation (Rom 4:25; 1 Jn 1:7). For man to be declared just or righteous requires obedience to God’s laws and fellowship with Him – to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Gen 18:19; Mic 6:8; Rom 2:13). The just shall live by faith or reliance on divine provision, not human effort, because our righteousness is inadequate but we are given righteousness in Christ (Isa 64:6; Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Phil 3:9; Heb 10:38).
Everything God does is right and all His ways are just – Daniel 4:37
and so not exploiting or taking advantage of others, rather loving them as we love ourselves (Mt 7:12, 22:39; Lk 6:31). Job said, “What will I do if I have denied justice from others and God confronts me?” (Job 31:13,14). If we want to receive justice or any other benefit we must extend it to others too (Mk 11:26). The parable of the unmerciful servant highlights the principle of sowing and reaping – he had received abundant mercy yet was not prepared to extend mercy in a small area (Mt 18:21-35).
God has no favourites; He judges each person with impartiality and rewards all who earnestly seek Him (Deut 4:29; Jer 29:13; Heb 11:6; 1 Pet 1:17). The saved receive mercy and the unsaved get justice – nobody gets injustice. The Bible’s message is to hand out true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another for in the eyes of the Lord, justice, mercy and faithfulness are very important (Zech 7:9; Mt 23:23). Don’t twist justice to benefit those who are rich and influential; justice must be a non-negotiable item in human relationships (Deut 16:19,20). The righteous care about the poor; caring for those in need is an expression of our love for Him (Prov 29:7; Mt 25:34,35,40).
Appropriate penalty and restitution should be made for wrong, but this must be done through the legal system, not by taking matters into the individual’s own hands as retribution, or payback, is personal vengeance which usually exceeds the original crime. If we have been sinned against we should follow the example of Christ, who did not retaliate but instead entrusted Himself to God who judges justly (Mt 5:44; Lk 23:34; Rom 12:17-21; 1 Pet 2:18-24, 3:9). This is responding in the opposite spirit – showing love when hate is expressed, forgiveness instead of retaliation – it is taking the mature wisdom approach not the ‘self has been hurt, I’ll get even’ way that causes an escalation of conflict and ill will. We are set free in our spirits when we forgive the other person and we will advance in our Christian experience as we live by His principles not the world’s vindictive ways.
Often we cry out to God for justice, forgetting we are guilty sinners deserving God’s righteous judgement. Rather we should thank God for the mercy and cleansing blood of Jesus because justice is getting what we deserve, mercy is not getting what we deserve, and grace is receiving what we don’t deserve. Justice and impartiality should under-gird a civilized nation.
Restorative justice is a voluntary process where the victim and offender meet face to face after the offender has admitted responsibility for the crime. The aim is to redress the harm done to the victim while holding the offender to account and engaging the wider community in the resolution.