What does justice look like? If we go back to Exodus twenty-three, we will be able to see a sample. Keep in mind that true justice is based upon equality, not social standing. Anything else would be a perversion of justice, as we will soon see.
Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause. If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him. Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked. And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt (Exodus 23:4-9, KJV).
Part of justice is being truthful, which means that we speak the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15,25). Giving false testimony, and slandering another is the opposite of justice. People can use factual statements concerning another, yet it can be used to slander them; even though they may claim they are “just telling the truth.” Sadly, when believers get ensnared with conversations that slander others, they fail to realize at the time they are being unjust, while rationalizing what is being said. Some people take joy in such conversations, though they themselves have become judges of others, which place them in jeopardy of being judged as well. Ironically, in such instances people will accuse others of the very things they themselves do. Romans is very clear about such things: “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Romans 2:1, KJV).
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way (Romans 14:10-13 KJV).
Part of slander is defamation of character; it damages the reputation of another. It can leave an entirely false impression of the individual; especially since we do not know everything there is to know about him. We do not know all his motivations behind what he does, the circumstances in which he finds himself and so on. Only God knows the entirety of a person’s makeup, which makes him to be the only one qualified to judge. 1John 3:15 says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.” The word hate not only means to detest, it especially means to persecute. In relation to hating another, especially a brother or sister, it also implies active antagonism in both words and conduct. It is the result of what is in the heart. Could slander be considered an act of murder in a metaphorical sense? When one destroys another person’s reputation, that person’s credibility may also be ruined in the minds of others. He may become distrusted, even though he is an honest individual with good intentions. As a result he is shunned or ignored as if he does not exist. As far as others are concerned, he might as well be dead. Let me illustrate the point: have you ever heard a bad report concerning another? What was your reaction? Did you find yourself doubting the other person, even though you try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt? Have you ever been slandered? How did that feel? If there is a propensity to speak ill of another, and perhaps mistreat him, it is time to examine the heart. Rest assured there is no true joy in slander, no matter how much glee a person may have in the moment!
We know that God judges what is in the heart, not the outward appearances of a person (see 1Samuel 16:7). If we are not careful, we can become ensnared into judging another by his appearances, or by the circumstances that he finds himself in. It is easy to judge someone based upon his conduct, even though we do not know what it is in the individual’s heart. Generally, whatever is in our heart is what we are going to vocalize, and if we judge someone we may also wind up slandering him. It is so easy to get caught up in the proverbial, “Did you hear about so and so?” Even though we may not instigate the conversation, we can get swept into slandering another. It is possible to begin to judge another by virtue of hearsay. That is to say, we may hear a negative comment made concerning another and as a result we may begin to judge that person, even though we haven’t heard his side of the story. Even if we did hear his side and it was still a negative, we are not called to judge him, but to restore him! “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2, KJV). “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20, KJV). Think of the joy that comes with the restoration of another; whereas, judging another is often coupled with un-forgiveness and bitterness. Think about this: when a person judges someone else, there is usually un-forgiveness involved. There is propensity to hold the individual accountable for his actions or attitudes because of being offended. There comes the attitude of wanting to see the person pay for his failure. Then of course there’s the attitude that says, “They deserve what they get!” This is un-forgiveness coupled with judgment. The moment we decide we are going to judge another instead of forgiving them, we are walking in un-forgiveness. Keep in mind that when a person decides to be un-forgiving he is being unjust. How so? Because he has been forgiven by the Most High, and by failing to forgive, he is being unequal (see Matthew 18:21-35). We all deserved judgment, but the Father who is rich in mercy forgave us, and so should we forgive one another. “As far as the east is from the west, he so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). If the Father does not bring up our past, neither should we bring up someone else’s.
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