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There are three little words that every parent dreads. “That’s not fair!”

If I had a dollar for every time one of my darlings has made this whiny-toned pronouncement, … well, let’s just say I’d be a lot closer to quitting my day job. So, when I took a look at this week’s character trait, I smiled because I get to practice justice every day!

Justice is taking personal responsibility to uphold what is pure, right, and true. It’s being fair and reasonable in the way people are treated and decisions are made. It’s the impartial adjustment of competing claims. The concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, and natural law. The opposite of justice is corruption, where decisions are bought and paid for.

Justice implies a clear description of what is right and acceptable behavior, followed by the wisdom to recognize the truth buried in the arguments of two opposing parties, and ending with a logical and fair decision about the appropriate consequences.

My Bible study group is currently taking a closer look at the book of Deuteronomy — an old testament book full of rules and statutes to live by with clearly outlined consequences for those who obey or disobey the commands of a Holy God. Part of me wants to cringe at a list of rules, but there was one statement in our lesson that changed my mind.

At that time, most cultures worshipped and tried to appease multiple gods with arbitrary whims. Into that chaos stepped a chosen people whose One God lovingly spelled out His expectations so there wasn’t any confusion on the matter. And when they broke His law and suffered the natural consequences of their decisions, no one could argue that God was not just. (Although some, like Jonah, complained when God was merciful!)

So rules are a good thing because they rein in our selfish impulses and show us the best way to live. But rules are only as effective as their consistent enforcement. That’s where justice comes in.

Where’s my gavel when I need it?

What about you? Do you sometimes cry foul because things aren’t fair? Are rules a good thing? Why or why not? Do you see God as merciful, just, or both?

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