Character Trait No. 22
Definition: Showing justice and impartiality to persons and programs according to God’s law.
“To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgement, and equity.” Prov.1:3
Since this author has lived over 20 years in a country where bribery and corruption are just the normal way to do business, Amos 5:9 strikes a real chord:
“LET JUSTICE ROLL DOWN LIKE WATERS
AND RIGHTEOUSNESS LIKE AN EVERY-FLOWING STREAM.”
Amen! Let it come. And “it” has – in the very person of Divine King Jesus, the God/Man who fulfilled Job’s hope for a Redeemer who would justify him. (When being harshly interrogated by his “friends” who basically totally trashed his character.) (Job 19:23-25) What both the shepherd oracle from Tekoa and the wise patriarch from Uz only could prophetically foresee, we now can actually know in the person of Jesus Christ, whose own perfect character is our great need and goal.
When the God/man walked this earth, He created incredible opposition to his ministry by the tradition bound Jews who rightly understood that He was claiming divinity. When He healed the crippled man at Bethesda, the frustrated Jews accused Him of Sabbath breaking. Jesus defended His rightful divine action as simply doing what He, as equal to God, had always been doing for centuries previous to His incarnation > sustaining and restoring His damaged creation from the effects of sin and Satan. As a timeless Being, Christ could do good on any day.
“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgement to the Son...and He Father (God) gives Him (Jesus) authority to execute judgement because He is the Son of Man (Messiah).” (Jn. 5:22)
Jesus was explaining that mankind’s judgement was being placed in the hands of the incarnated God. Since he’s been a man, (Heb.4:15), he can sympathize fully with our predicament, yet as God, he could also impartially and perfectly judge. Think about it. How could God give more equitable judgement. He says: “Be perfect, as I am, and was while a man, perfect.” Otherwise, we’d say that God is unfair, since as an eternal Spirit, He’d be unable to understand our human predicament. By becoming human, Jesus really identified with those whom He would judge from His Great White throne someday.
Jesus went on to say:
“I can do nothing on my own (merely human) judgement. As I hear, I judge; and My judgement is just (equitable) because I do not seek my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (Jn.5:30)
Rightful judgement for the world was now in the capable and compassionate hands of God’s own chosen representative, His own Son. Job’s “Redeemer” lived, and at last took His stand on the earth. Now Jesus would be the very living depiction of God’s equity for all time.
What then is this equity that man needs so much? It is simply impartial, fair judgement to counter the Accuser – Satan’s – vile and ongoing campaign to completely discredit, slander and destroy man’s self image which was originally in the very image of God. Equitable judgement means that any selfish or personal interests do not sway the one judging. Equity is the application of justice to all persons, regardless of their skin color, social status, lack of any other favored attractive personal characteristics.
Christ defined in His very person and earthly ministry this trait. The Old Testament also has many illustrations of equity. For instance, Solomon’s wise treatment of the harlots and the dead infant. Another great example is David’s handling of those who were too tired to carry on pursuing the Amalekite raiders, and stayed with the baggage. Being able to keep up with the more physically fit did not disqualify them from sharing in the booty of victory. David said to those not wanting to share with them:
“ You must not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us, who has kept us and delivered into our hand the band that came against us. And who will listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they share alike.” (I Sam. 30:23-24)
Jesus showed even more astonishing intelligent and compassionate treatment of the lady caught (deliberately trapped) in adultery. Being God, he superceded the Mosaic law of stoning with compassion – introducing a newer law of grace and truth (Jn.1:17). Any accuser who was without sin was invited to stone away. Doesn’t that sound like equity? What is good for the goose.....? Now at last people have God’s grace available through Christ rather than perishing under the condemnation of the law.
That example helps us understand true equity. It is not without consideration of “extenuating circumstances”. All will be judged, all need God’s mercy. Paul told the Athenians:
“..He (God) has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man, whom He has appointed, having furnished proof...” (Acts 17:3)
In Romans 2, Paul further explains:
“There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to every man who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.” (Rom.2:9-11)
All men, regardless of racial heritage, or religious background, will be judged by the same standard – how did they do in fulfilling God’s righteousness. All men are equally judged as guilty under the same standard from which they had fallen – the perfection(in character) of God= His glory. (Rom.3:23) Thus, in immersion, there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, all are also saved by the same needed grace. (Gal.3:27)
This vital point is (finally) drilled into Peter’s thick skull in Cornelius house by the spectacular and the only other immersion of the Holy Spirit, this time on the Gentiles. He said:
“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.”
This is the point of II Cor. 5:16, where Paul says that we no longer view any man according to the flesh. All are either new creations, clothed in Christ and children of light, or lost sinners in Satan’s camp. This is the basis by which we can be truly equitable people.
James berates the prejudicial treatment of the rich and poor in James 2:
“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism....have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives. ..if you show partiality, you are commiting sin and are convicted by the law as trangressors.” (Jms.2,5,9)
James tells them that if they’re without equity, God will judge them similarly without mercy! Mercy must triumph over judgement. That is what the gospel is all about. We all deserved hellfire, but God’s grace gave us a second and completely undeserved chance.
The application of God’s own equity is further seen in the way Paul wrote the Corinthians about their participation in helping the poor Judean Jews:
“For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality – at this present time your abundance being a supply for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want, that there may be equality; as it is written;
“HE WHO gathered MUCH DID NOT HAVE TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO gathered LITTLE HAD NOT LACK.” (II Cor.8:13-15)
Paul also says something astounding to these same Corinthian saints in his first letter to them:
“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? Do you now know that we’ll judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” (I Cor.6:2-3)
We are all recreated in the image of our big brother, Jesus, and must walk as He walked. Equity must be part of our character as well. A family, church or nation without men of equity is in big trouble. Impartiality in court is a prime requisite for true justice. Thus, Lady Justice is pictured as blindfolded. It is the Lord’s people, the true Israel of God that can set the world standard of impartiality and fair play. Here’s how you can be equitable:
- Learn to judge situations by God’s perfect standard as revealed in the Bible.
- Put aside personal prejudices against groups of people or individuals.
- Be objective, not subjective in deciding the merits of a case. Be reason-led, not emotion-led. Cool heads and not hot hearts should be the rule.
- Lay aside any personal interests or selfish agenda, and be interested only in what is right and true.
- Give equal representation for every individual to be judged by the same standard. Have not favorites due to worldly considerations. (Ugly, poor people should be judged without dislike or prejudice, for example. Relatives and old friends should not be given every advantage. On the other hand, it is not right to forget persons’ past good records and meritous behaviour when considering what treatment is appropriate. (See Hebrews 6:9-10) Equity doesn’t mean treating everyone alike in every way. For example, Peter says that we should consider, in our treatment of women, that they are a “weaker vessel”, and also “fellow heirs of the grace of life”. Summing up, he says that we should be “harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit...” (I Pet. 3:7-8) Impartiality means that we consider the various circumstances and do not judge apples with pears. Heavy boxers box each other, not lightweights. That is equity. Old men don’t race with 18 year olds.
- Ask God for wisdom, then make as fair a judgement as possible. Practices makes perfect, and you will get better. Trust God and rely on Him and His grace.
- Ask what Jesus wants, not what men expect of you in deciding what or whom is right and correct.
The key to becoming a person who shows equity is to be a Spirit-filled man. As you ingest and digest God’s Word and work with individuals to help them know God through His Word (discipling), then God will make you more and more like the original model of Christianity – “Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith”. (Heb.12:2)