“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
— Isaiah 1:17
Poverty is often caused by injustice. While justice occurs where relationships are “just right,” injustice happens when relationships are broken. Injustice includes the misuse of power, exploitation of the weak, denial of basic rights, valuing money more than people, and self-indulgence in the face of human suffering. It can take many forms. It can be personal or societal.
One thing we know for sure is that God hates injustice because it harms his children, whom he loves. Through the prophet Isaiah, God shows that even our best worship can be distasteful to him if we do not practice justice. Injustice makes our religious practices unacceptable to God. Prayers, songs, lavish worship services—they are all meaningless if we do not do justice.
The role of prophets was to call people back to faithful living, to repent of their unjust practices, to embrace justice as a lifestyle. Isaiah talks about seeking justice, defending the oppressed, and speaking up for the fatherless and the widow, and in chapter 58 he adds that we should share our food with the hungry, provide shelter to the poor wanderer, and more. The prophet Micah says we should “act justly,” “love mercy,” and “walk humbly” with God (Micah 6:8).
The good news is that God accepts our repentance and transforms us to do justice out of joyful service to him.
God, we know that you want us to be just. By your grace, restore and renew us to seek justice for Jesus’ sake. Amen.