Study 3: Living Justly
Sermon Date: May 7th, 2017
Readings: Zechariah 7:8-9; Matthew 25: 31-45 & others
As we continue our consideration how of the resurrection of Jesus transforms the way that we are to live in thought, mind and action, we come to the big theme of living justly.
Justice is major theme of Christian discipleship. It embraces the justice of God and also how disciples of Jesus are to live. We’re thinking about the latter this week. In this regard, we’re to understand living justly as living righteously. This is to live in a way that honours Christ.
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus taught that we’re to “… seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Righteousness comes from having a surrendered heart to Christ that leads to surrendered living, in every aspect, for Christ. Jesus summarised this as “…loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and loving our neighbours as ourselves.” (Matthew 22: 37)
It’s helpful to remember that in our last study, I introduced the theme of justice. The Hebrew word for justice is mishpat. Far from being some abstract concept of fairness, mishpat is about the practical way that we conduct all relationships. Mishpat is about meeting the obligations of our relationships. It highlights our duties and responsibilities towards others and is particularly invoked in the Bible in the context of oppression of the poor and vulnerable.
In our study, we’ll consider how justice ought to be evident in our daily life of discipleship.
Have you experienced a sense of injustice?
How did you feel and what were the practical implications?
Questions: (see “Helpful Hints” at the end of this section)
1. Read Zechariah 7:8-9. What do you understand “true justice” to mean in this verse?
2. How and in what ways and for what reason, did Jesus live a life of “true justice”?
3. Read Matthew 25: 31-45. Thinking particularly of verses 35-40, what do you think of the teaching that our daily actions must demonstrate our faith in Jesus and these must stem from a surrendered heart of love to Christ? (see also James 2:14-26; Matthew 5:8; Psalm 51:10).
4 a) Thinking of some specific examples, how can we live justly in our daily lives?
b) What changes may the Lord be asking you to make as you grow in righteousness?
In scripture, justice is closely related to mercy (e.g. Micah 6:8).
Recalling how in and through Jesus, the justice and mercy of God (grace) are revealed, conclude with a time of prayer expressing our thanks to God for his grace to us and seeking his help to live lives that are characterised by this grace so that his kingdom may grow in and through us.
Helpful Hints for discussion questions:
2 In this context, justice refers to the principles that are to regulate relationships between people and which bind society together “…as they bind a person to God (see Psalm 9:8b; 76:9; Isaiah 30:18), especially in the covenant relationship (Hosea 2:19). The adjective ‘true’ is a reminder that it possible to live according to the letter of the law but not the spirit…. True justice involves concern for the individual, especially those in need, generosity (Ezekiel 18:8) and humility (Psalm 25:9-10). It is derived from God himself.”
(source: “Zechariah’ [Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries], Baldwin, IVP)
Richard Jones, 04/05/2017