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Monday, February 11, 2013

Justice, Balance, and Seven Deadly Sins


“Seven deadly sins:
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice.”
— Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869–1948)
Brokenness pervades the entire landscape of humanity; it’s both our thorn and our identity. For this the Saviour, the Lord Jesus, came to save us from our sins—so that we would repent and turn to the truth, acknowledging our brokenness.
Turning to the truth facilitates the rectification moment from our sin. When we adhere to the truth, because we honour the will of God in humility, going against the human prideful flow, we work, nurture our conscience, are in touch with our humanity, grow in character, don’t forget our principles, uphold morality, and can make sacrifice.
But the matter of sin overwhelms our balance, especially corporately. If we cannot gain mastery over our sin, how will we manage virtue in the company of community?
Justice should be simple, for justice is balance—not a middle-of-the-road reality, but a reality where God’s perfect vision is sought, adhered to, and delivered. But, because of sin, justice is rarely as simple as we’d like it to be.
Power without Responsibility
Justice becomes a problem when those with (or in) power discharge their duties irresponsibly. Proverbs talk a lot about the indicators of rulers’ malevolence. Most of the Old Testament prophets railed against bad rulers. But when there are no rulers (or rules) justice is even more scant (see Judges 21:25, for instance).
Wherever humanity has a role in discharging justice, that justice must have a process for keeping it accountable, because humanity can generally not be trusted unless it is held to account. Even processes designed to keep those in power accountable can be rorted.
But where those in power take their responsibilities seriously, and manage transparently, honouring those they serve, they govern diligently. Their model for governance is based on balance; it discerns the will of God, strives to achieve it, and continues to work tirelessly until it is achieved, always being sensitive to balance.
Structures for power must be linked with appropriate levels of responsibility. With authority must come structures for ensuring responsibility is maintained.
Traits of Godly Governance
As Gandhi puts it, there can be no luxury without the balanced justice of the responsibilities to work. There can be no pleasure without thinking about the impacts of that pleasure. Science must be humane. Knowledge must be underpinned with discerning character. Politics needs to be purposed in the right sort of principles. Businesses must do their trading in fair ways. And worship is never good if it is carefree, costing nothing (not requiring solemn devotion).
All of these matters demonstrate the need of balance within justice.
Justice, when it is seen and done, is balance. We know balance by just means and ends.
***
Where those in power take their responsibilities seriously, and manage transparently, honouring those they serve, they govern diligently. But justice becomes a problem when those with power discharge their duties irresponsibly. Justice is the achievement of balance; the achievement of God’s situational will.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

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