Responding to Injustice


It is normal and natural for us to shrink from unpleasant situations and conflict. Unfortunately, we sometimes find ourselves in the middle of them through no fault of our own. Can we insist on our rights, our honor, and our dignity?

Everyone realizes that unfair things happen in life. We will only experience absolute justice in heaven. Jesus Himself said that lawlessness would increase before the end of the world (Matthew 24:12). But how should you and I react when we are treated unfairly?

Let’s consider a certain Mr. Miller. He was successful in his occupation and had an excellent position that afforded him honor, prestige, and wealth. Yet, there seems to be no perfect joy on this imperfect earth, and the one bitter drop in Mr. Miller’s cup was his boss with whom he often clashed. One day things erupted between the two and Mr. Miller was forced to leave the company. He felt he had been treated unfairly. Mr. Miller could have unburdened himself to his family and friends, but Mr. Miller chose another way. He publicly denounced his previous company in the press. When he approached a rival business for employment, they said, “No, thank you. Your negative publicity about your previous employer does not suit our company’s culture.” Was the temporary satisfaction of shaming his employer worth it?

In the short story “The Counterstrike” by Josef Reding, the apprentice Richard felt unfairly treated by his master. The man had boxed his ears for being late for work. Raging inwardly, he now plotted revenge.

He laid a strip of nails on the road where his master would drive home after his game of bowling. “He will get a flat tire, and justice will be served,” Richard thought. “After all, justice doesn’t come to those who wait; you have to take matters into your own hands.” He was horrified, however, when a serious accident resulted from his “lesson.” Richard realized that his pain had not eased, and instead of justice being served, injustice had multiplied.

Jesus showed us another way. He said that we are not to avenge injustice. Instead, He said, “whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Matthew 5:39). He also gave us the best example in Himself: “When He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).

We find another noteworthy example in the Old Testament of someone who was treated unfairly but did not repay evil for evil. It was King David as he fled Jerusalem from his own son Absalom.

A man from King David's predecessor’s family had met him at a place called Bahurim to curse and insult him. He even threw stones and dirt at him, a sign of intense public humiliation. The soldiers surrounding King David were angry and wanted to “take off his head”, but David defended his tormentor. “Let him curse,” he said, “because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David’” (2 Samuel 16:10). David accepted this man’s unfair treatment of him humbly and as from God’s hand, and was therefore able to respond calmly and submissively. Perhaps he was reminded of his grossly unfair actions against Uriah after he had the affair with Bathsheba.

Should someone who has received forgiveness and experienced God’s compassion not also demonstrate leniency and grace to others? Let us remember that everything that happens to us must first pass by our heavenly Father. If He allows injustice to happen to us, then He may feel we need a lesson in humility. If instead of accepting the lesson we balk and retaliate for the perceived wrong, injustice in the world only grows. When you and I leave the matter to Him who judges righteously, we can exercise patience, trusting that the just Judge will one day bring to all injustice to an end.

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