“Ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.” – Malachi 2:9
I have been exceptionally grieved this past week as dozens of concerns and thoughts that I have had for years have come to a head. Like many Americans I am troubled by the senseless violence, racism, murder, and systematic corruption that has become the legal system in America. I used to refer to the “legal system” as the “justice system,” but I can no longer do so in good conscience. “Justice system” inherently implies that the system is just; this simply is no longer the case. (“Legal system” would imply that the system is legal which it is not, but I simply do not have a better word.) However troubling the legal system has become, it is only a symptom of what we have become as the citizens of this nation.
One of the most amazing Hebrew phrases is found in Malachi 2:9. The word translated “partial” in English is actually two words in Hebrew that literally mean “accept faces.” God was judging the nation of Israel because they no longer followed justice; instead they looked at who the person was before passing judgment. This is exactly what is taking place within our country, not only within the legal system but within our hearts as well.
Every major news story seems to be divisive: cops vs. young black men, black vs. white, Republican vs. Democrat, Washington outsider vs. Washington insider, Establishment vs. Grass-roots, etc. (This divisiveness is by intent, but that is another topic for another day.) What has grieved me is that the people of our nation have become those who accept the face. Republicans always defend Republicans and attack Democrats and vise versa. Before facts are even known, people defend the cops and demonize the young black male or vise versa. However, all of this is horrid in the eyes of God. This is not justice!
Justice has traditionally been depicted as a woman who is blindfolded with scales in her hand; “justice is blind” used to be a common statement. Justice refuses to know who the parties are; she carefully considers both sides and weighs the evidence before passing judgment. Justice does not assume a man is worthy of death because he is black. Similarly, justice does not conclude that a man is worthy of death because he is a cop. Justice does not immediately side with anyone until the facts are known. Justice does not demonize an individual and call them names because they are a Democrat. Justice does not defend the immoral actions of a Republican. Justice does not look at the face. Justice decries murder where ever it is found either at the hands of a cop, a citizen, or a politician.
Herein lies the problem of our society. We as a people have removed the blindfold and accepted faces. We have allowed the enemy to divide us and have acted in unjust, bigoted, and partial ways. We have defended violence simply because we identify with the person perpetrating it. We have accepted sexual immorality simply because it is our child who is immoral. We have proclaimed innocence on the guilty simply because they are part of our political party. We have only grieved the loss of police officers or the loss of African-Americans but rarely grieved the loss of both. This is an abomination in the eyes of God.
When it comes to black lives matter, blue lives matter, politics or any other issue we should only be on the side of truth. If a man assaults a man it is irrelevant as to which one is a police officer and which one is a citizen. If a man murders a man it is irrelevant as to which one is white or which one is black. Justice is blind. It is appalling to me that our system has adopted a double standard for citizens and those who are in authority, for those who are wealthy and those who are poor, and for those who are black and those who are white.
However, what is more appalling is that the citizens of this country automatically jump to the defense of one side or the other without even knowing all the facts. This is accepting faces. This is a perversion of justice. This is evil in the sight of God. We must repent of this accepting of faces and cease being partial in our judgments.
The violence and corruption will continue until we follow the teachings of Christ in Matthew 7:
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
We must quit demanding change of the other side and change ourselves first. How can we teach others to remove their corruption, hatred, bigotry, and racism if we have not learned from Christ how to remove it from our own hearts? How will cops stop young black men from killing each other if cops cannot stop killing young black men? How can young black men convince cops to stop killing them when they cannot convince each other to stop the black on black violence? How can Democrats stop the corruption in the Republican party without addressing their own corruption first? How can Republicans stop the Democrats’ corruption without dealing with their own corruption? As long as we continually side with our particular group we have become partial and abhorrent in the eyes of our Creator Who made all men equal.
I long for a day when cops will speak out against racist cops and African-Americans will speak out when an African-American commits a violent crime. I long for the day when white people oppose racism where ever it is found. I long for the day when we are more focused on fighting against sin than fighting for our particular group. I long for the day when Democrats and Republicans join together against corruption instead of consistently toeing the party line.
As a pastor, I have dealt with more conflict than I could ever recount here. The easiest thing to do is to convince someone that the other party must change. The hardest thing to do is to convince someone that they should examine their own heart to seek a solution to the problem. Instead of shouting for someone else to change, we must begin to examine how we can help facilitate that change. We must get the beam out of our own eye. We must deal with the partiality within our hearts before we ever begin to address others. We must run to Christ to heal our own hearts before we ever address anyone else.
A wise man once said, “If it doesn’t work at home, don’t export it.” This should be our approach in all of life. When you have learned to love cops and young black men alike, then you will see clearly to help others love in turn. There is very little difference in recoiling from a cop and recoiling from a black man with dreadlocks; both are passing judgment, accepting faces, and wrong. It is even more wrong to pass this prejudice on to your children. The same goes for politics and a host of other divisive issues. Stop accepting some faces and rejecting others without knowing and carefully weighing both sides. When you have learned to face the corruption within your own group, you will know how to address the corruption in someone else’s. When you decry sin within your own heart first, you will then be free to decry it where ever it is found.
May God open our eyes to our own sins and make us blind when it comes to passing judgment on others.