Updated: Oct 19, 2021
"Blessings on people who hunger and thirst for God's justice! You are going to be satisfied." Matthew 5:6
What is "God's justice"? The New Oxford American Dictionary defines justice as "just behavior or treatment." When Matthew says, "God's justice," is he insinuating that God has own version of justice, as contemporary relativists refer to "my truth"? Of course not. Justice and truth are not relative; they are absolute, or they are nothing at all. So, Matthew cannot mean that God has His personal version of justice. Saint Augustine said, "All truth is God's truth." Similarly, all justice is God's justice. There are only two options: the just and the unjust. So, why does Matthew talk about "God's justice"?
"God's justice" is a reference to God's own behavior. When God does the right and proper thing, God is just. Another way to say this may sound more familiar to you. When God does what justice demands He does, God is righteous. But doesn't God always do what is right and just? Our theology says "yes," but there have been many times when human beings called God's justice into question. We are living through one of those times right now.
The topic of God's justice is currently popular for many traditional Americans who, like me, have only now become aware of how deep corruption is in the US government. Many of us console ourselves by claiming "God wins" or "God will win," which appeals to God's justice or righteousness. In the end, we believe and hope that God will and must punish evildoers and vindicate the righteous. In two thousand plus years since the Gospel of Matthew, human desires and hopes have not changed.
The fact that Jesus said, "those who hunger and thirst for God's justice will be satisfied," may be a disappointment to many. To know that for more than two thousand years, some humans have claimed that justice is coming is disheartening. Who are we kidding? Justice never comes, it seems. Why do we expect anything to be different today? Yet, we still haven't answered the question, "what is God's justice?" What is God supposed to do? The Bible has a precise answer to this question.
According to the Bible, God made a deal with Abraham, the patriarch of the nation of Israel. God promised to bless all the nations of the world in and through Abraham's family. This covenant stipulated that God would die if He did not keep His promise (See Genesis 15). Until God kept this promise, nobody could say that God had been "just" in the sight of the covenant. This promised covenant fulfillment is the precise issue at stake in Paul's letter to the Romans, where he so frequently addresses the subject of "God's righteousness." As an evangelist, Paul wants the world to know that God has kept his promise through Jesus and is therefore "just" or "righteous" according to the covenant terms. God has been true to His Word.
Jesus didn't make a long-range prediction when He prophesied that "those who hunger and thirst for God's righteousness will be satisfied." Jesus claimed that His audience was to be a witness to the fulfillment. If you hunger and thirst for God's justice, look no further than Jesus and the Gospels. If we look beyond the cross, we will miss God's justice altogether.
The cross of Jesus is God's ultimate "no" to corruption and God's total means of addressing evil. But how can Jesus' death on the cross be the means of God's justice when crucifixion is one of the most inhumane punishments, and Jesus is the most innocent of all human beings? The answer is that true justice is about righting wrongs; it is not about exacting vengeance. True justice demands sacrifice, not simply wrath. If a vehicle is damaged, someone has to work to repair it, pay for the material, and absorb the loss. The car will never be usable again until someone sacrifices for it. The owner will never repair the vehicle so long as he only cares about exacting punishment on whatever caused the accident. Vengeance leads to the destruction of all things, but justice leads to the restoration of all things at a personal cost.
The person who seeks revenge says in a voice full of cynicism, "burn it all down!" This attitude is the spirit of Antifa, who has all the anger and none of the answers. The voice of justice says, "What we have is so valuable that I will fix it, even at great personal conflict and loss." The pillow inventor and entrepreneur Mike Lindell is an American hero and an excellent example of a Christ-like fighter for justice. Like Jesus, Mike has suffered dramatically in His attempt to make things right and just in our country. Will Mike Lindell succeed? Yes, he already has. The father of lies could not lure Mike away with promises of security or wealth if He stayed silent about the truth. Justice has already won in Mike's case because Mike is doing what is right and proper.
The real difficulty we have in attaining justice is not that we must wait on God. The real problem is that we need to want the only true justice instead of our insatiable and blindsided lust for vengeance. God's justice is the only justice. If we want anything less than what Jesus fought for on the cross, we do not want justice but vengeance. And the justice that Jesus fought for cost Him everything. If we are unwilling to pay a sacrificial price to gain justice, we are not seeking true justice. But if you do what is right, no matter what the cost, justice will win.
"God wins" because Jesus won when He was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Thank you, Jesus, for the victory over all evil forever.