Colossians Episode 10
Don't Forget The MASTER. The difference between Justice and Fairness.
Here is our starting point as expressed in I Peter 1:15, 16.
THERE IS A STANDARD
Definition: Master, Lord, principal, ruler. The one in a position to exercise power/authority over others. This can be for an hour or a life-time. It can be by force. It can be by choice
We've discussed slaves in previous lessons. Now it is the master. Paul moves both ways! The master is not exempt from any of the rules because of his position. THERE IS A STANDARD
Christianity is so practical! How to live in any circumstance.
The Roman law allowed masters to treat their slaves as brute beasts, to abuse and even to murder them.
But Christianity at once put Christian masters under restraint. - Ephesians 6:9
We don't find in secular history any such restraint. The slave was regarded as chattel. The master could do with the slave whatever the master's pleasure or profit.
Christianity introduces the human-value factor. First time in the history of nations.
The master was to treat his servants as he wished to be treated by his Master in heaven, and to expect the same kind of treatment that he issues out. This is commonly known as the "Golden Rule” - Matthew 7:12
Consider with me the two MOST BASIC AND NEEDED things that the master must provide, give, supply to his slave/servant.
THE MASTER MUST PROVIDE JUSTICE. 4:1
What is Justice? We need to get a handle on justice. THERE IS A STANDARD
- Notice the company justice keeps: Proverbs 1:2, 3; Psalm 89:14
- The example of King David, a type of Christ; 2 Samuel 8:15
- Justice is a human priority: Proverbs 21:3 This priority has NOT changed!
- Justice has an iron grip on truth: Isaiah 59:14, 15 When truth is lacking, justice is turned back - Go away!
It isn’t just that there is a standard for justice, but it is the consistent application of that standard. No consistent application? No justice. Justice decays into "fairness."
The Pilate syndrome: John 18:37, 38
Justice: The application of the principles of God's Word which are totally consistent with His holy character (I Peter 1:15, 16). My intent is to call you to a "higher life." - Matt 5:48
There are two great standards. Do you see an option there?
Some folks live only by their own self-conceived standards. Standards that are whiney and demanding, always to their own benefit, always to their own way, and always at the expense of others.
The principles of Justice are universal and are not optional.
The two laws:
- Do all that you agree to do and lie not. - Isaiah 55:11; Proverbs 13:2, 3
- Do not infringe nor encroach on another's person or property.
WHAT IS GOD LIKE...?
Justice reveals the true nature of God based upon His holiness and also reveals the rebellious attitudes and actions of those who ignore and violate His nature.
The Mush Makers. All designed to take us away from a real consciousness of God and sugar-coat His justice.
Justice requires full payment for every violation of God’s Word. NOT the god of our making, but the God Who is there! At this point, "we all ARE in a real-bad way!" - Romans 3:23; 6:23
Justice requires a standard and a punishment for the violation of that standard. One of the purposes of discipline is to instill this truth.
ON THE OTHER HAND...
Mercy: The provision which God has made in that His Son has paid the full price for every violation of His principles and of His Word. It is how God makes man useful even when he sins. - Colossians 3:6; 1 Timothy 2:6
Justice and Mercy together define the love of God. Both spring from His love.
- Mercy characterizes another as having internal and inherent value. The value that transcends the sin and rebellion. "I see the worth in that person." God sees the worth in the individual, so that we, as Christians, can as well.
- Mercy is withholding from us the just punishment of our sin and our transgression. Without mercy very few of us would be here in this assembly today!
- Mercy includes the granting of time to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
- Mercy is extended to those who affirm and choose God's righteous standards and confess their failure to uphold and achieve those standards.
UNTIL WE GET THE IDEA OF JUSTICE CLEAR AND CRISP IN OUR MINDS, WE WILL FEEL NO URGENCY FOR THE MERCY OF GOD.
Justice is a virtue that ALWAYS conforms to truth, fact and reason with what is right or good.
THERE IS A STANDARD. Philippians 4:8
Think in terms of what is Just!
- Isaiah 59:1-4 - the lesson to learn of the righteousness of God.
- Jeremiah 10:23 - This standard is not within us...is a learned matter.
- I John 3:4 - Living without law (lawlessly) is sin. Most folks seem to live without a sense of having a God-governed life.
What Justice is NOT: It is not capricious (wishy-washy) - Justice is solid, Capricious: "whatever" - how is the wind blowing today? No roots. No law of order. Tumbleweed style!!! Fairness to some and not others.
You can count on justice to be the same for all situations, persons, locations. It is objective, therefore predictable. Justice must have a predictable application.
That is one way we learn of God and His warnings and promises.
Now into this scene enters a commonly heard and used word: Fairness.
- Fairness is not Justice!
- Fairness is the antithesis of justice - It changes according to situations, popularity, persons, and locations.
- Fairness is easily manipulated because it has no solid foundation - it is subjective.
- Fairness changes with culture and public personal opinion.
- Fairness is lowering God's standard to the level that can be achieved without responsibility.
- "Fairness" is based upon man's value system -- it is the product of human comparisons (2 Corinthians 10:12).
- "Fairness" is looking at a situation from the viewpoint of each person - subjective, rather than from the viewpoint of God - objective.
Now is the time for all good Christians to delete the word "fairness" from their vocabulary! It has NO place in the mature Christian's thinking or conversation - 1 Corinthians 13:11
In our text, it is instructing the master to fulfill the responsibilities that reflect the value of a human being as God sees them. Those perimeters are set by His laws
Justice is one thing missing in today's world. You have the elite. They believe they know what is right for everyone. Arbitrarily. Their basis for decision making is "fairness" NOT justice. "Fairness" is always at the expense of another. NO CONSISTENT STANDARD UPON WHICH JUSTICE CAN BE BASED.
Not only is the master to apply and supply justice, (having his conduct governed by rules not emotion) but now he is instructed...as to HOW to do so...EVEN WHEN THERE IS NO SPECIFIC LAW: HAVING EQUITY.
THE MASTER IS TO TREAT THE SLAVE WITH EQUITY - 4:1
Disregard the use of "fairness" (NASB) as it is commonly used TODAY.
The word here in THE TEXT is best translated as "equal" or "equity."
Equity is the application of justice to situations not covered in scripture or law. These are the judgment calls. They, too, must be in harmony with established principles.
As in our text, Equity always follows justice. It is applying God's general principles to a specific situation. - Matthew 20:1-16
Showing generosity without violating an agreement! nor other commitments.
Equity allows for those judgment calls in relationships that are not specifically spelled out...that is one reason we have a brain. There are times that we need counsel - There is safety in counsel - Proverbs 11:14
The scriptures are addressing those Not equal in position, but always equal in humanity. The human factor is always popping up. The verse speaks of Equity in the consistent application of the spirit and intent of the law not just the letter of the law. It is the basis for human equality.
We are all answerable to someone - even Masters - even Jesus Christ!
The same principles for making commitments and agreements. That is where equality begins and ends...with a standard. Equity is applying the principles of
God in any situation but never at someone else's expense by force. This is the standard of equity. This is the formula for solving issues not specifically addressed in scripture. Equity is fulfilling agreements made.
"I'll make a law for you” We can take from you and give what you have to another. You like that? It is called stealing.
America was founded on the principle that all are equal with equal opportunity to fail or succeed, equal justice under law. No respecter of persons.
The Bill of Rights covers ALL citizens subject to the same laws and that no law shall be imposed that is not or cannot be enforced equally upon all.
EQUITY IS WHAT COVERS US WHERE WE ARE NOT EQUALS...
We are never equal in talents, skills, abilities. Our fingerprints are not equal. Our perceptions are not equal. Our IQ's are not equal. Our bank accounts are not equal. But our value before God is equal.
His Word is to be applied consistently to all equally. The spirit of His Word is consistently applied to all without encroaching on another's person or property.
God is the author of liberty which is premised upon truth.
"The truth shall make you free." - Ephesians 6:9; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:6
Some comparisons: Justice compared with fairness as it is used today and not in the sense of equity.
- Justice establishes guilt when God's standards are violated.
- Fairness tries to remove guilt by lowering God's standards..."Don't feel so bad." "It's not your fault." Society is guilty, but not YOU!
- Justice causes us to confess our failures and plead for mercy (1 John 1:9, 10).
- Fairness causes us to justify our failures so that we do not think that we need mercy.
- Justice and Mercy are based upon personal responsibilities to a holy God.
- Fairness is based upon assumed, self-determined personal rights; it will produce rebellion.
- Justice is impartial. It is objective and non-emotional -- no favoritism to rich or poor, black or white, educated or uneducated.
- Fairness is partial; It is subjective and based upon arbitrary emotional consideration. Others don't count. "I want my way.” It is the art form of self-absorption.
- Justice holds the individual guilty for his offense.
- Fairness: Humanistic laws based upon fairness hold society guilty for an individual's offense. = Rehabilitation without Restitution.
Ezekiel 33:10-20 Equal responsibility to do the right thing whether a slave or master in all and in any circumstance "in the Lord."
Compare Romans 14:12: In equity or equality all are individually held accountable to the same master with the same standard and to the use, application of that specific or general principle.
Why? You, too, have a master and He is in heaven! NOW! Know this about God!!! Then appeal to Him for His mercy.
The slave and the master have the same master! He exercises justice and understands equity.
You have an impartial judge who is master of both. Who you think you are will make no difference to God. Know and practice Justice toward all. Learn to apply equity in all situations...consistently.
Remember always - it is not justice if it is not consistent!
Your slave is just as dear to God as you are! Don't harm him! That employee and the employer are to be equitable. Don't forget it!
No one is exempt from a master...