What does God think about social justice? There are at least ~2000+ verses in the Bible that deal with different aspects of social justice & Ellen White also writes about it extensively. Here are 10 introductory biblical principles.
- SOCIAL JUSTICE IS A TRAIT OF GODLINESS & LOVE: Working for Biblical social justice shows that we have genuine godly love for people in distress, a trait which reflects God’s sacrifice and love for us and is a major essence of Christianity.
**”Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27
**”The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all.” Prov. 29:7
- GOD ADVOCATES EQUALITY: We are to imitate God and He advocates equality.
**“Native-born Israelites and foreigners are equal before the Lord…” Numbers 15:15,
**“…you are equal as brothers and sisters.” Matt. 23:8
- GOD HATES DOUBLE STANDARDS: God opposes all forms of unfairness. “Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.” Leviticus 19:15 “…the Lord detests double standards of every kind.” Proverbs 20:10
- INDIVIDUALS HAVE JUSTICE RESPONSIBILITIES/PRIVILEGES: Every individual is responsible to look around them and take care of those that are suffering just as the Good Samaritan did. Matthew 25:31-45 tells us that the difference between the sheep and the goats is largely based on how they treat the oppressed. Ellen White writes,
**“Each neglect of the needy poor, the homeless, the fatherless, the prisoner, is neglect of Jesus.” (A Call to Stand Apart, p. 93).
- GOVERNMENTS HAVE JUSTICE DUTIES: Some aspects of justice can only be dealt with at government levels. Godly people sometimes must protest harmful government policies in both believing governments and non-believing governments.
**“King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.” Daniel 4:27 (NLT)
**“Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.” Ezekiel 16:49 (NLT) (see also Nehemiah 5, Psalms 72, Jonah 1-4).
- CORRUPT CHURCHES IGNORE SOCIAL JUSTICE & PRODUCE ENEMIES: Sadly, churches have at times been corrupt and disobedient or far worse even assisted in causing oppression. At those times, God allowed enemies to come and harass believers (and others) & cause humiliation. This is happening now too.
** “I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” Amos 5:21-24
**”The people of Israel have rejected what is good, and now their enemies will chase after them…Even though I gave them all my laws, they act as if those laws don’t apply to them. ” Hosea 8:3,11
**’Had Israel been true to God, He could have accomplished His purpose through their honor and exaltation. If they had walked in the ways of obedience, He would have made them “high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor.” But because of their unfaithfulness, God’s purpose could be wrought out only through continued adversity and humiliation.” Desire of Ages, p. 28
- SABBATH IS GROUNDED IN SOCIAL JUSTICE: God has called us to take action against injustice repeatedly. The Sabbath itself was designed to help people remember God’s action of social justice against the government of Egypt in freeing the slaves. Opposing injustice is a crucial aspect of Christianity and some of it can be done on the Sabbath as an act of worship. Jesus himself demonstrated this by repeatedly healing people on Sabbath to show the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, when he could have delayed the healing to another day if He had thought it wrong.
**“Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.” Deuteronomy 5:15
**See also the context of Sabbath observance principles in Isaiah 58:6-14 which is explicitly social justice.
- BRINGS LIFE TO CHURCHES: When the church does not address practical issues in life and society, it loses its ‘saltiness’. A large number have left church because it failed to be a voice of hope and solutions in the face of injustices or disasters. This is disastrous for freedom, since the church is the greatest bulwark against oppression in all history.
**“I have been instructed to refer our people to the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Read this chapter carefully and understand the kind of ministry that will bring life into the churches…When you meet suffering souls who need help, give it to them. When you find those who are hungry, feed them. In doing this you will be working in lines of Christ’s ..All our praying and abstinence from food will avail nothing unless we resolutely lay hold of this work.”
- EVERY ACT OF LOVE IS REWARDED IN HEAVEN: The Bible tells us that every good act is rewarded in heaven. This is separate from salvation, but will be beyond our imagination.
**“If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet…if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” 10:41-42
**“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Cor. 2:9
- CONFIDENCE IN SALVATION: The apostle John said, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13. What had he written? “…Everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:2-3 (see also Rom. 13:8-10). But biblical love was never just a feeling. It took action. John also said, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister[a] in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?” 1 John 3:17 (NLT)Ellen White also agrees that genuine love for God and others is the character trait that we need for heaven.
**“In the story of the good Samaritan, Christ illustrates the nature of true religion. He shows that it consists not in systems, creeds, or rites, but in the performance of loving deeds, in bringing the greatest good to others, in genuine goodness. ..Supreme love to God and impartial love to man are the principles to be wrought out in the life…Unless there is practical self-sacrifice for the good of others, in the family circle, in the neighborhood, in the church, and wherever we may be, then whatever our profession, we are not Christians.” Desire of Ages p. 497-8, 504.**”Eternal life is the reward that will be given to all who obey the two great principles of God’s law,—love to God and love to man. The first four commandments define and enjoin love to God; the last six, love to our fellow men. Obedience to these commands is the only evidence man can give that he possesses a genuine, saving knowledge of God. Love for God is demonstrated by love for those for whom Christ has died…” THE YOUTH’S INSTRUCTOR March 22, 1900