We live in a time where social justice can be highly controversial within Christian circles. Because the focus of social justice is “justice in terms of the wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society” (Oxford Languages) some believe it falls short of pursuing a biblical form of justice. While a biblical form of justice does include principles such as forgiving our enemies and leaving vengeance in the hands of God, it also includes taking care of the poor, the hurting, and the disadvantaged.
When we open our bibles we see themes of justice dispersed throughout the text. In a world where every issue is hotly debated, the aim of this blog is not to force you to believe a certain way. The bible doesn’t tell us what to think, rather it gives us powerful principles to inform our decision making. Oftentimes it’s the motives of our heart, rather than our direct actions which God ultimately weighs, meaning that the way each person leans into making the world a better place can be different. Our hope is that sharing these following verses will give you a wider perspective on the importance of pursuing the common welfare of others as part of justice.
1. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.” (Matthew 12:31)
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment, or “rule” from God was, the first he gave was to Love God. The second commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. Considering there is no greater commandment than these, we can assume that God places a high value on how we treat others. We are to consider the welfare of others as being equal to our own sense of welfare. Meaning, just as we seek out good for ourselves, we should also seek out good for those around us.
2. “But Let Justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
These words were given through the prophet Amos, who preached at a time when God’s chosen people, the Israelites, had become so corrupt and turned so far away from God that there was no righteousness or justice to be found in the city. The Israelites thought they were still honoring God because they observed religious rituals, but really their hearts were removed from God and they were mistreating one another. In that moment God called for justice and righteousness rather than the empty religion they offered.
3. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27)
In this bible verse James is speaking to the early Christian church about what it truly means to follow Christ. Part of truly following God is caring for the orphans and widows, two groups who would have been the most vulnerable during that time. This verse is a welcome reminder that our faith is ineffective if we are not using it to care for the most vulnerable among our society.
4. “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17)
Similar to Amos 5:24, God is speaking to the Israelites once again. This time he is speaking through the prophet Isaiah, and the message is similar. In a time of corruption and spiritual darkness, God is calling his people back to him. As He calls them back to himself, he urges them to do the following. These injustices weren’t simply at a personal level, they were throughout the nation and existed at a systemic level. Part of their spiritual renewal was dependent on renewing the way they treated one another.
5. “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” (Proverbs 29:7)
The book of Proverbs is known as the book of wisdom in the bible. It is filled with verses concerning looking after the most vulnerable, but this verse emphasizes that caring for the poor is an attribute of the righteous. It goes even further to identify those who don’t concern themselves with the poor as wicked. This verse further highlights that how we treat the most vulnerable in our society is a high priority to God.
We hope you enjoyed this list! Let us know your favorite bible verse on justice in the comments below.
(Note: A good part of this list was inspired by this list here which contains even more verses on justice.)