“Justice and only justice shall you follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16.20
Love and respect for our parents, learned at home, puts us in good stead to practice justice in all our neighborly activities. Justice is only the Law of God, faithfully practiced in all human relations and interactions. Thus, justice is the particular form which neighbor-love takes in any situation.
The Law of God describes five different kinds of justice. Preventive justice includes those things we do in order to ensure that our actions do not endanger our neighbor – such as building a railing around our roof or deck. Obligatory justice involves us carrying out the commitments we have made in everyday situations – keeping a vow, for example, or using just weights and balances. Restorative justice comes into play when some action on our part has harmed or injured another, incurring some cost or damage, which it is then our obligation to make good. Retributive justice requires punishment for offenses against others – in the form of financial damages or physical retribution. And distributive justice – such as the tithe and gleaning – makes it possible for us to meet the needs of those who serve us and those who cannot sustain themselves.
The Law of God establishes a ground on which we may cultivate the fruit of justice in every area of our lives, thus ensuring that our community flourishes in the wisdom, goodness, and love of God for His people. Learning the requirements of justice for all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities must be maintained as a high priority in the conscience, so that, whenever the opportunity arises, justice and only justice is what we will follow in all our ways.
For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the life of faith, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.ailbe.org and click on our Book Store.