Being fair and just is an important theme throughout the Bible. God calls us to treat others equitably, judge righteously, show impartiality, and act with integrity. Here are some key takeaways on what the Bible teaches about being fair:
- God is perfectly fair and just, and His laws reflect His righteous character. As image-bearers of God, we are called to emulate His fairness.
- We are to be impartial and unbiased in our judgments, not showing favoritism or prejudice. Justice should be blind.
- Fairness means giving people their due and not exploiting or oppressing the poor and vulnerable. The Bible defends the cause of the weak.
- Acting fairly brings blessing and prosperity, while greed, corruption and injustice bring ruin. Righteousness exalts a nation.
- God detests dishonest scales and measures. We are to use honest weights and measures.
- Showing partiality is wrong. Favoring the rich over the poor because of their status is an injustice.
- Bribery perverts justice and thwarts fairness. True justice cannot be purchased.
- Biblical justice also has a restorative aspect, seeking to restore and reconcile broken relationships.
God is Perfectly Fair and Just
One of the attributes of God highlighted in the Bible is His perfect sense of justice and fairness. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4 NKJV). Because God is just and upright, His laws and instructions reflect His righteous character.
In the 10 Commandments, God lays out basic principles of justice and morality that Israel was to follow:
“You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet.” (Exodus 20:13-17 NKJV).
The entire Levitical law elaborates on how Israel was to emulate God’s fairness and justice in society.
The Psalmist frequently praises God as the model of what true justice looks like:
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways, Gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.” (Psalms 145:17-19 NKJV)
Because God is perfectly just and upright, He expects His people to live justly:
“Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.” (Jeremiah 22:3 NKJV)
As followers of Christ, we are called to emulate God’s standard of justice, righteousness and fairness in how we live, lead and make judgements. We serve a God of perfect equity.
Be Impartial and Unbiased in Judgments
One important implication of God’s justice is that those who judge on His behalf must make rulings impartially and without bias. Leviticus 19:15 states:
“You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:15 NKJV)
Justice should be blind. Prejudice on account of ethnicity, gender, social status or appearance has no place in biblical justice. When we judge, we are to set aside personal biases and consider each case carefully on its own merits.
Moses instructed the judges he appointed over Israel:
“Now listen to me: I will give you some instructions, and God will be with you. You must represent the people before God and bring their cases to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the work they must do. But you must never act unjustly or show partiality in judgment. Never accept a bribe, for bribes blind the eyes of the wise and corrupt the decisions of the godly.” (Deuteronomy 1:16-17 NLT)
Making righteous judgments requires honesty, wisdom, courage and God’s guidance. We should pray to judge matters as God would.
The New Testament also condemns partiality. James 2:8-9 states:
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” (James 2:8-9 NKJV)
Favoring the rich and powerful while slighting the poor and weak is not God’s justice. As Christ-followers, we are to uphold His standard of impartiality.
Fairness Means Giving People Their Due
Fairness in the Bible means dealing with people equitably, giving them what is properly owed rather than exploiting or oppressing them. It implies protecting the vulnerable from abuse.
Many Old Testament laws were meant to prevent the poor in Israelite society from being taken advantage of. For example, verses on paying fair wages:
“You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning.” (Leviticus 19:13 ESV)
“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brethren or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15 ESV)
Employers were not to exploit workers by failing to pay fair wages promptly. This principle still applies today. Workers should be compensated appropriately and paid in a timely manner.
Laws on tithing, gleaning and sabbatical years also ensured the poor had fair access to food and resources. The judicial system was also set up to defend the vulnerable against injustice. Exodus 23:6 warns judges: “You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit.” Fairness means protecting the rights, livelihood and dignity of the poor.
The Bible takes the side of the oppressed. God hears their cries and defend their cause. As Proverbs 31:9 states, we are to “Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.”
Acting Fairly Brings Blessing and Prosperity
The Bible portrays justice and righteousness as the foundation of a prosperous society. When people deal fairly with one another, honoring rights and dignities, the entire community flourishes.
Proverbs 16:12 states: “It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is established by righteousness.” Good governance requires just laws and policies. Leaders uphold fairness and equity.
Proverbs 29:2 declares: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” Corrupt governments that exploit citizens are an affront to justice.
Many verses portray justice and righteousness as the path to national prosperity:
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)
“By justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts gifts tears it down.” (Proverbs 29:4)
“The LORD within her is righteous; he does no injustice. Every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail.” (Zephaniah 3:5)
As citizens, we should support leaders and policies upholding fairness and justice. This creates a climate where people and commerce can thrive.
Conversely, the Bible shows how injustice and oppression destroy nations that indulge in them. The prophets pronounced doom on Israel and Judah for exploiting the poor and weak:
“Hear this, you who trample the needy and destroy the poor of the land, saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?” (Amos 8:4-6)
“Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not defend the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come before them.” (Isaiah 1:23)
Greed, oppression and dishonesty in business dealings corrode a society from within. As citizens, we should advocate for reforms that curb injustice and uphold fairness.
God Detests Dishonest Scales and Measures
One way the Bible emphasizes fairness is through verses denouncing dishonest weights and measures. When merchants used inaccurate scales or measurements to overcharge buyers, this violated God’s standard of justice. For example:
“Diverse weights and diverse measures, They are both alike, an abomination to the LORD.” (Proverbs 20:10 NKJV)
“Differing weights and differing measures— the Lord detests them both.” (Proverbs 20:10 NIV)
“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.” (Proverbs 11:1 NKJV)
“You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:36 NKJV)
As citizens and business owners, we should advocate for and adhere to honest business practices. This means rejecting dishonesty and exploitation. Customer trust is built on fair policies and transparent dealings.
Showing Partiality is Wrong
The Bible clearly condemns favoritism and prejudice. Showing partiality denies people fair and equal treatment.
James 2:1-4 cautions believers against preferential treatment:
“My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4 NKJV)
Favoring the rich simply because of their status and slighting the poor is condemned as evil. Unfortunately, many societies still struggle with class prejudices today. As Christians, we should champion the intrinsic worth and dignity of every person, regardless of background.
Treating people differently based on ethnicity, gender, disability or other factors is also wrong. We all stand equal in God’s sight. The civil rights movement in America was fueled by many Christians denouncing segregation as unbiblical oppression.
Leviticus 19:15 gives a concise principle for combating prejudice: “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.” (NKJV) May we uphold God’s standard of impartiality.
Bribery Perverts Justice
Bribery is frequently condemned in Scripture as an obstacle to true justice and fairness. When the legal system can be manipulated with bribes, the poor suffer oppression. For example:
“You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.” (Deuteronomy 16:19 NKJV)
“He who is greedy for gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live.” (Proverbs 15:27 ESV)
“They do not defend the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come before them. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning…those who turn aside the stranger from his right, and do not fear Me’, says the Lord of hosts. ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel against… those who pervert justice for a bribe.” (Isaiah 1:23; 5:23 AMP)
Public servants are to resist bribery and champion reforms to limit money corrupting politics. As citizens, we should advocate for transparency and accountability in government. True justice cannot be purchased. It requires moral courage and integrity among civic leaders.
Justice Requires Making Things Right
While justice in the Bible includes fair laws and judgments, it has a restorative aspect as well. Justice seeks to make broken situations right again through repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
When Zacchaeus the tax collector repented of his greed and oppression of the poor, Jesus declared, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:9-10 NIV)
While Zacchaeus had to make amends for past wrongs, Jesus forgave him and restored him to fellowship.
Paul also emphasizes justice has a redemptive quality: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 13:19-21 NIV)
Of course, repentance is required. But God’s justice ultimately seeks reconciliation and restoration, not merely harsh punishment. We should extend mercy as He has to us.
In summary, the Bible gives us many principles for upholding God’s standard of justice and fairness. We are to emulate His righteous character in how we act, judge matters, do business, and lead. Jesus Christ modeled righteousness, mercy and sacrifice on our behalf. As we grow in His grace, may we increasingly champion His justice in a broken world.