Author: Ron Graham
A Disciple’s Justice
—Much mercy, no partiality, no hypocrisy.
The Bible promises that "God shows no partiality" (Acts 10:34, 1Peter 1:17, Romans 2:11). He judges everyone fairly whatever one’s station in life.
Any judgments we make must also be fair, guided by the wisdom of God. "The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (James 3:17).
The last three qualities, "full of mercy, without partiality, and without hypocrisy", are especially applicable to justice:
1 Full of Mercy
As an example of mercy in justice, let's look at how a sinner in the Lord’s congregation should be dealt with by fellow Christians. This process shows great fairness and mercy.
At each of the progressive steps listed below, the aim is the sinner’s repentance and forgiveness, in which case no further steps are taken. These steps proceed only so long as the sinner will not repent...
- 1. Self discipline with self examination is given every chance to work without interference. (2Corinthians 13:5).
- 2. A private rebuke by one person alone provides an opportunity for repentance (Matthew 18:15).
- 3. A second private rebuke is made with one or two others as witnesses to ensure fairness (Matthew 18:16).
- 4. The congregation is told about the matter and the sinner is rebuked in the presence of all. This provides another opportunity to repent (Matthew 18:17, 1Timothy 5:20).
- 5. A "second admonition" is made by the congregation for another chance to repent (Titus 3:10-11).
- 6. The congregation puts the unrepentant sinner out of the fellowship. However the sinner is not treated as an enemy, but admonished as a brother (1Corinthians 5:1-7, 2Thessalonians 3:14-15).
- 7. If the disfellowship brings about repentance, the disfellowship ceases and there is a welcome back into the congregation (2Corinthians 2:6-8).
These steps are designed by the wisdom of God. They are just and full of mercy as you can see.
In all our dealings we should show kindness and mercy. "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Lacking that attitude, justice and discipline would be cold and useless. The disciple’s justice must be warm, full of mercy and good fruits.
2 Without Partiality
James says, "My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ in an attitude of personal favouritism... if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors" (James 2:1,9).
Israel was disciplined by judges right from the start. They were instructed, as were all the Israelites, to act with absolute fairness. "You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbour" (Leviticus 19:15).
Moses commanded the judges, "Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother, or the stranger who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment. You shall hear the small as well as the great. You shall not fear any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s." (Deuteronomy 1:16-17).
It is also worth reading the instructions of King Jehoshaphat to his judges. His main point was "You do not judge for man but for the Lord who is with you in judgment... with whom there is no partiality, nor taking of bribes" (2Chronicles 19:4-10).
3 Without Hypocrisy
When Jesus was teaching against hypocritical judgment, he said, "Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? ...Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye" (Matthew 7:1-5).
A person who is without hypocrisy has two other “H” qualities instead: humility and honesty. A disciple with those two qualities will practice justice and make judgments pleasing to the Lord.