God’s justice seems to be one of His most derided attributes. People often would rather picture a God who overlooks offenses, and forgoes all punishment because they equate these actions with “love.” Of course, most of these same people would not like the criminal justice system to do these very same things if they found themselves the victim of some sort of crime. If this were the case, if the courts and legal representative simply disregarded the offense against them, they would rightly cry “injustice.” And yet when it’s us who offends, we are apt to want our trespass overlooked.
What people overlook is that God’s justice is one of the primary reasons that we can trust Him. My husband reminded me of this connection recently and as I contemplated it further I realized how true it is. Because God is just, we know that the promises that He makes will be fulfilled. After all, an unjust god, a god who was unconcerned with remaining the same “yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8) would have no qualms about changing their minds and negating the vows that they have made. An unjust god may not punish our sins, it’s true, but there would also be no guarantee that we would be disciplined equitably for our sins. in other words the “time” might not fit the “crime.” We would be at the mercy of an unjust god’s daily inclinations – unsure what the expectations were and what the consequences for our actions may be. God’s justice may not be an attribute that we naturally celebrate, because we are not inclined to be at the receiving end of what that justice merits, but because He is just we can have confidence that our trust in Him is secure.
The fact that our trust in God is predicated, at least in part, on His justice, may not be something that we often consider. However, any teacher could probably tell you which of their students have a home where justice is distributed equitably and consistently because these are the students who rarely “act out,” who are confident and “well-adjusted” individuals. In the homes where expectations and consequences are inconsistent, children don’t have the security of knowing what each day may hold and whether their actions will be met with applause or reproof. Similarly, God’s justice provides His children with security. We can trust that in Him there are no “shifting shadows” (see James 1:17) and consequently, we can trust in how He dispenses both justice and grace.