Leviticus 19:15 through Leviticus 19:18 (NIV)
15“‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
16“‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD.
17“‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.
18“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
Justice! Ah, I have heard men say, "Better be just than generous."
But it's ten times harder to be just than to be generous. A man can
help a poor widow, but does he give God, his family, his neighbor and
himself their dues?
II. Partial Selectivity Denies Justice.
A. Favoritism in defense
When we start defending the poor, or the oppressed, we sometimes can become guilty of reverse discrimination. We can be unfair to the rich as we make our case against the poor.
* WHEN A FOX who had never yet seen a Lion, fell in with him by chance for the first time in the forest, he was so frightened that he nearly died with fear. On meeting him for the second time, he was still much alarmed, but not to the same extent as at first. On seeing him the third time, he so increased in boldness that he went up to him and commenced a familiar conversation with him.
Acquaintance softens prejudices.
If we get to know all sides, we will see through their eyes, and will be able to look at them all with impartiality.
B. Favoritism for Gain
---When you lower yourself by showing favoritism to the rich and famous, when you lower yourself and bow to those forces which could benefit you, your self value is driven below that which you are after. If it is money, you are bought for a price. That price is your own self worth. Not only is it unfair to you, but it is unfair to the one you show favoritism to. You do not value the person for their self worth, but for their net worth.
III. Promoting Slander Denies Justice.
*To love the whole world For me is no chore; The only real problem's My neighbour next door.
A. Attacking reputation
* "Slanders are like flies, that pass all over a man's good parts
to light on his sores."
*Augustine encouraged conversation at meals--but with a strictly enforced rule that the character of an absent person should never be negatively discussed. He had a warning to this effect carved on a plaque attached to his table.
-- "St. Augustine," Christian History, no. 15.
B. Attack through accusation
*John Killinger tells about the manager of a minor league baseball team who was so disgusted with his center fielder's performance that he ordered him to the dugout and assumed the position himself. The first ball that came into center field took a bad hop and hit the manager in the mouth. The next one was a high fly ball, which he lost in the glare of the sun-until it bounced off his forehead. The third was a hard line drive that he charged with outstretched arms; unfortunately, it flew between his hands and smacked his eye.
Furious, he ran back to the dugout, grabbed the center fielder by the uniform, and shouted, "You idiot! You've got center field so messed up that even I can't do a thing with it!"
(Failure, Judging others)
Larson, Illustrations, 10
IV. Permissive Silence Denies Justice.
A. Expressing wrong alleviates anger
*A Man who is not angry at evil, lacks enthusiasm for good
--- A stem vent keeps the boiler from exploding.
* In a 1994 article, "Wars' Lethal Leftovers Threaten Europeans," Associated Press reporter Christopher Burns writes: "The bombs of World War II are still killing in Europe. They turn up--and sometimes blow up--at construction sites, in fishing nets, or on beaches fifty years after the guns fell silent.
"Hundreds of tons of explosives are recovered every year in France alone. Thirteen old bombs exploded in France last year, killing twelve people and wounding eleven, the Interior Ministry said.
"'I've lost two of my colleagues,' said Yvon Bouvet, who heads a government team in the Champagne-Ardennes region that defuses explosives from both World War I and II. ...
"Unexploded bombs become more dangerous with time, Bouvet said. 'With the corrosion inside, the weapon becomes more unstable, the detonator can be exposed.'" What is true of lingering bombs is also true of lingering anger. Buried anger will explode when we least expect it.
-- Barry McGee, Anderson, California. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 3.
* My most painful experiences have been when I've had a problem and no one loved me enough to tell me about it.
-- Paul Cedar, pastor, Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 3.
B. Expressing wrong alleviates guilt
---If your brother makes you angry, and you do not let him know how you feel, you are the one responsible for your own anger. You are guilty.
V. Personal Satisfaction Denies Justice
A. Getting Even
* During World War II the U. S. submarine Tang surfaced under the cover of darkness to fire upon a large Japanese convoy off the coast of China. Since previous raids had left the American vessel with only eight torpedoes, the accuracy of every shot was absolutely essential. The first seven missiles were right on target; but when the eighth was launched, it suddenly deviated and headed right back at their own ship. The emergency alarm to submerge rang out, but it was too late. Within a matter of seconds, the U. S. sub received a direct hit and sank almost instantly.
In much the same way we can destroy ourselves by hostility toward others. The effects of holding a grudge are very serious. Modern medicine has shown that emotions like bitterness and anger can cause problems such as headaches, backaches, allergic disorders, ulcers, high blood pressure, and heart attacks, to name just a few. When we do not love our enemies but strike back at them, we are usurping Gods's prerogative to mete out justice. We read in the Bible, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord!" By seeking revenge, we really inflict great harm on ourselves.
* Doing an injury puts you below your enemy; revenging one makes you even with him; forgiving it sets you above him.
-- Anonymous. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1.
B. Grudge Bearing
* It is said that a rattlesnake, if cornered, will sometimes become so upset that it will bite itself. That is exactly what the harboring of hate and resentment against others is - a biting of oneself. We think that we are harming others in holding these grudges and hates, but the deeper harm is to ourselves.
- Michael Green
* When Fran was doing dishes one morning, she began to fume and stew over the disturbing reappearance in her life of a friend who had become an alcoholic. She thought: Why should I pray for that no-gooder?
At that moment, a potted fern that was hanging over the sink came crashing down on her head, cracking clay and spilling dirt all over the sink.
After a count-10 pause, she shook off the dirt and whispered: "Okay, Lord, I'll forgive. Thanks for planting the idea in my head."
Faye Kuzma, Redford, MI. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."
* Genuine forgiveness runs deep. It is not a thin surface patch on a relationship, but an inner change of heart toward the offender. Too often we think we have extended forgiveness when we have only covered over our resentment.
Rabbi David A. Nelson likes to tell the story of two brothers who went to their rabbi to settle a long-standing feud. The rabbi got the two to reconcile their differences and shake hands. As they were about to leave, he asked each one to make a wish for the other in honor of the Jewish New Year. The first brother turned to the other and said, "I wish you what you wish me." At that, the second brother threw up his hands and said, "See, Rabbi, he's starting up again!"
We all want justice from others, but too many of us think we deserve it more than we need to dish it out.
Two battleships met in the night and began to attack each other. In the conflict, a number of crewmen were severely wounded, and both vessels were damaged. As daylight broke, the sailors on the ships discovered to their amazement that both vessels flew the English flag.
Many years earlier, just before the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the British naval hero Lord Nelson learned that an admiral and a captain in his fleet were not on good terms. Sending for the two men, he placed the hands of the admiral and the captain together. Then, looking them both in the face, he said, "Look - yonder is the enemy!" Working together, the British fleet won the battle.
Like the men in the first story, Christians sometimes "attack their own ships," and the victory that could have been won by battling the real enemy is lost. Harsh words and belligerent attitudes weaken the effectiveness of Christ's body, the church. How much better to "keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace!" (Eph. 4:3)