Having grown up in a religious, church-centered culture, the words “justice” and “righteousness” were part of my vocabulary, nearly from the beginning. However, I had virtually no comprehension or understanding of what those terms actually mean – they just became synonyms for “behave yourself, and you won’t get in trouble with God.”
I’ll acknowledge that there is a nugget of truth there, but the reality is far more appealing and fulfilling. “Righteousness” and “justice” are words that refer to the essence of who God is, and how He sees reality from His eternal perspective. God creates everything – including you and me – from His perfect vision of what we will be when the process of our lives is complete, when mercy and grace have had their full effect, and we are fully transformed into the likeness of Jesus.
In Psalm 45:7, the Messianic King (Jesus!) is said to “love righteousness and hate wickedness.” This is not primarily speaking of behavior, but of loving the perfect essence of every person and situation that is in God’s heart, and hating the sin-caused distortion of that perfect essence. So, “righteousness” is essentially the true nature of who you are in God’s vision of you.
“Justice,” then, is the process of bringing you and me into that perfect state of righteousness. According to Isaiah 42:4, King Jesus will not rest or give up until justice is established in the entire earth – in other words, until all things are fully conformed to the vision God had when He created it and called it “very good.”
Here’s some really good news – Jesus’ righteousness (His perfect alignment with the Father’s design and will) is given to us as a free gift (Romans 5:17-18), which includes the power to become what we were created to be! He has infused into you and me the desire and the capability of being fully conformed to God’s design, and loving the process!
This is why Jesus says in Matthew 5:6 that those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” will be fully satisfied! He’s not just talking about learning to love good behavior, but receiving the revelation of who we are in the mind of God, and then pursuing that reality with everything in us. The result? Full satisfaction, every longing fulfilled, every desire realized!
Psalm 106:3 tells us that if we “keep justice” and “do righteousness,” we will be blessed. In other words, guard and protect this understanding, live in line with the revelation of God’s heart concerning you, your family, your friends, your city, and full joy and blessing will be the result.