Justice or Charity?

justice-or-charity

Both justice and charity are mentioned in the Bible as qualities of both God and the faithful. Yet, it seems to me charity has somehow been subtitled for justice. People think they are supporting justice when all they are is being charitable. For example giving toys to needed Children during the Holidays is nice, its charitable, but its not justice. Those Children will still have to return to their families who are broken, possibly abusive, and most likely unable to provide adequately for them. Giving a sandwich or a few dollars to the homeless person standing on the corner is great and should be commended, however its still not justice. That sandwich only met the most temporal of his needs, and did not change his life, soul, or the cold park bench or overpass which he calls home.

Hear me correctly, I’m not speaking ill of charity. I know how hard it is to motivate people to be charitable, to bring in toys for children, or roll down their windows to give to the homeless. But justice is what is needed the most. Justice will help fight to root of the problem, greed, pride, and selfishness.Justice will help move a homeless person off the street permanently, by providing education and counseling. Justice will help end poverty, and war. The Kingdom of God is concerned about justice, as well as charity. But Charity without justice is like pouring water into a bucket without first plugging the hole in the bottom.

The Torah (the first five book of the Old Testament) imposed an obligation to maintain a society in which justice reigned. Maintaining societal Law was seen as maintaining Spiritual Law. You could not consider yourself spiritual if you did not carry out justice in your community. And when justice was not being maintained the prophets that their altars and places of worship would soon come crumbling down and they would be inhibited from worshiping God. Social Laws and Spiritual Laws go hand in hand. To live out justice is to take action against the evils of this world, but it is also to live out love, grace, and mercy. To live out justice is not only to stomp out the negative, but to live out the positive.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Justice or Charity?

  1. Caleb

    Could you tell me your source of all this is, as in where is it found in the bible? Cause I’d like to know. I realize that statement could be misconstrued to sound arrogant but that’s not how I meant it.

    “Both justice and charity are mentioned in the Bible as qualities of both God and the faithful.”

    “The Kingdom of God is concerned about justice, as well as charity.”

    “The Torah (the first five book of the Old Testament) imposed an obligation to maintain a society in which justice reigned. ”

    if you could send it to myspace.com/saylub that would be great.

    • thekeynote00

      The Torah, or “the Law” imposed heavy regulations to treat the poor, orphan, widow, and alien with respect and dignity tending to their needs. The Torah did just just mandate charity, but set in regulation so that justice was done. Take for instance the every 70 years the land and it’s debts were to be reset, meaning no one could be lost into poverty forever. After 70 years your debts were forgiven. Another example is the regulation that the corners of the crops could not be cut, and they would have to be left for the poor and needy. In fact this is what Ruth lived on in the book of Ruth. The law also stipulated that unfair interest could not be required of a man when he borrowed from you.

      The Law imposed a just society were the lowly and marginalized were taking care of. The Hebrew people understood this because they were once, and often became the lowly in society, and God told them never to forget. This message was so integral to the Hebrew people, that it became the bases for many of the prophets messages. Amos for example right sole about social injustices, particularly mistreatment of the poor. There was recently a Bible produced that highlighted all 2000 verses in scripture relating to taking care of the poor. And as I write in my post its not just enough to give to their needs, but to help fix the system which impoverishes people.

      When Jesus came he clarified his calling by quoting from the prophet Isaiah in Luke 4:18&19
      “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
      because he has anointed me
      to preach good news to the poor.
      He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind,
      to release the oppressed,
      to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

      Jesus came not only to touch people in their need but also to lift them out of it. He not only healed people, but transformed their lives as he welcomed into the Kingdom.
      At the birth of the Church in Acts it is recorded that, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”(Acts 4:32-35) This surpassed charity, they were living justice.

      Paul says, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 and James writes, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:15-17. This gives us our basis for Charity

      Lastly, God is both just and charitable. The pure fact that that he extends us grace and mercy is his charity. And his gift of Salvation and His ever present Spirit is a sign of His Justice. God does not just meet our need, he heals us and gives us His Spirit and Power to live whole lives. He does not just reach down from heaven and give us a sandwich when were hungry, He heals our crippled hands and legs so we can walk and work again. Jesus showed people charity when he fed the crowds. Its written that he felt compassion for them. But he did not stop there he taught them the truth and lead them into the Kingdom of God so they would no longer be victims of the kingdom of this world.

      If your looking for more you should read The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder. It can be a difficult read at times but its well worth the work.

      I hope I answered your Question. You were basically asking about the character of God, and so its hard to pin point one verse or one place. That is how God is revealed throughout scripture.

      • thekeynote00

        Amos 5:21-24
        “I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
        I cannot stand your assemblies.

        Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
        I will not accept them.
        Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, [a]
        I will have no regard for them.

        Away with the noise of your songs!
        I will not listen to the music of your harps.

        But let justice roll on like a river,
        righteousness like a never-failing stream!

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