Deuteronomy 16:18-20 (NIV)
Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.
This summer the USA has exploded with calls for justice and equality. I don’t pretend to know all the issues that lie at the heart of the USA’s problems. However, having children that are visible minorities has had our eyes open to some of the disparity that is at play, even here in our beautiful little town.
Moses states that everyone must practice justice, no matter where they are. But saying so doesn’t get the job done. God’s people needed help to keep their integrity. So, judges and elders were appointed among the tribes who would administer justice evenly. Because no matter what a person’s place in life, the temptation to bribe an official or to distort a wise word for personal gain was always there.
As God’s people, we need this kind of leadership because we do not always get along very well. If you have trouble believing that, read the last few chapters of Judges, or Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Peek into the history of the worldwide church, and you will find bribery, twisting of the truth, inequality, and abuse.
The culprits of these injustices were often those who were called to do justice – the judges and elders, as well as bishops, ministers, and deacons. That’s not surprising, though. When a person has greater responsibility to do justice, that person has greater opportunity to twist a righteous cause, sometimes for personal gain and sometimes because of pressure by powerful people.
Unjust leadership hurts the faithful and distorts the gospel. God’s people need righteous leadership. Without it everyone would be doing what is right in their own eyes. Church leaders also need prayerful support so that they may pursue justice with integrity and grace. The church MUST be the leader in justice and equality.
Fill the leaders of your people with your Spirit, Lord, that they may be wise and fair, and protected from the temptation for personal gain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.