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Act Justly

February 6, 2017
February is a month during which love and social justice are celebrated. While we can easily conjure up expressions and images of love, we often have mixed ideas about what social justice looks like.

In the first portion of Micah 6:8 we are reminded to ‘Act Justly’ or ‘Do justice’. What exactly does that mean? What does it look like to act justly?

In the 2016 summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, two runners stood out in their competition, even though neither of them won an Olympic medal. During the 5,000 meter race, U.S. runner Abbey D’Agostino suffered an injury to her leg, and collided with Nikki Hamblin from New Zealand. Rather than continuing on with the race, they both reached out to help each other. When it was clear that D’Agostino was still in pain, Hamblin stayed near her, then linking arms with her, helped her opponent limp across the finish line.

While both runners lost that race, they ultimately were awarded a distinct medal for the ‘Spirit of True Sportsmanship’. As one reporter* stated, the notable award was “much harder to [achieve] than a gold medal”.

Acting justly often means stepping across lines of tradition, culture and religion to do what is right, good and best. In serving as a Christ-follower, it requires bold faith.

In a message given by John Thomas, pastor of King of Kings Baptist Church in Cape Town, South Africa, and Reach Beyond board member, John called out for this bold faith. Here are excerpts from that sermon:

Acting justly means being fair and kind to everyone. Whether or not you like them or know them; whether they are an enemy, an opponent, or a stranger in need. God requires us to be fair towards widows, the fatherless, the orphan, the poor, the hungry, the needy, the weak, the refugee, the oppressed. In other words the poor and the vulnerable in our society--whoever they are.

The Hebrew word used in Micah 6:8 for ‘justly’ is ‘mishpat’ and means ‘fair judgment’. God is a fair judge. He is just. One day as we listen to his judgments in eternity we will say, ‘Wow –that was so fair and right.’ And that is exactly what God requires of us.

Two important ideas make up the work of acting justly:

1. One is advocacy work. Every society where there is real poverty has systemic issues entrenched within. We are called in advocacy work to break the chain and yoke of injustice of those systems. We can stand up and say this is wrong, or there’s a solution, and do something about that system.

 2. The other part of acting justly is economic development. This is perhaps the biggest factor in breaking the cycle of poverty. What resources has God given us to help in this way? How can we train and empower those in poverty areas to become economically stable? This is part of the call of doing justice.
[end of message excerpts]

As runners in the eternal race of God’s Kingdom, Reach Beyond seeks to run with all that God has empowered us. We are committed to reaching out to those who have fallen or have been ‘eliminated’ from the race of life through poverty, disease, and disenfranchisement. We will use our God-given “resource, talent and energy” to advocate for and act justly wherever God places us.

Through media, healthcare, and community development projects, we desire to be the Voice and Hands of Jesus throughout the world. From planting radio stations in Nepal, or engineering clean water installations in Burkina Faso, to administering life-saving medical care and training to village families in Central Asia, we seek to act justly.

But there’s more to be done. There are countless who need the gospel. There are unreached villages yet without clean water. There are people for whom Christ died that need to know his love. To know that someone cares, and to have their tangible needs met. They need those who will act justly on their behalf.

Our mission is for those in whom no one has interest. We are called to see people the way the Lord sees them and act justly toward them. Ultimately, Micah 6:8 sounds clear and simple, but putting words into action may not be. May God help us be ‘doers’ of his word, and to act fair and right to everyone. That way no one loses.


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