Justice and the Value of Things
‘... where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ Matthew 6:21
‘The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.’ Matthew 6:21 (The Message)
Michael J. Sandel, in his book Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, states that, ‘…Justice is not only about the right way to distribute things. It is also about the right way to value things.’
We find another thought in Matthew 6:21 that says ‘…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’
So the question requiring an answer from us is what value do I apportion to things and what holds my heart?
In John 3:1-16 we read the story of Nicodemus. He understood and held tightly to the things that ensured his social standing and made him self-sufficient. A wise man once said, ‘What you get a hold of gets a hold of you, what you embrace embraces you.’ When offered something of eternal significance, Nicodemus had his sense of self – his value system – challenged.
We live in a world where the disparity between people means that some of us have much whilst others have insufficient even to make life tolerable. We, as the children of God, need to ensure that those of us who ‘have’ keep our lives in balanced perspective, so that we do not become spiritually impoverished to the detriment of our brothers and sisters who are socially impoverished.
What do we value? What is our treasure? Where is our heart?
‘As he thinks in his heart…so is he.’
Proverbs 23:7 (New King James Version)
Close to Home*
Our God, we are inclined to equate our material riches and preferred social standing as evidence of your blessing. Nicodemus and the rich ruler remind us that we should fear neglecting our spiritual poverty. Lord, we wonder why we are so enamoured with the pursuit of self-sufficiency. We know we are weak, but we insist on pretending we are strong. Why are we so ambivalent – so pulled by self-interest and still ready to let you rein us in? We have not forgotten that you created us, but that you do not coerce us. Please God, do not let us stray too far. Keep us close enough to your presence so that our self-interest will be more and more fused with your interest. Amen.
Beyond our Borders
Our God, gather together people of conscience and conviction to respond to both the spiritual and social needs of people everywhere. Give them a passion for the possible. Instil visions in them to make inhumane places more humane. Inspire them in the ways and means that create opportunities for people to sustain their lives with dignity. Wherever these principled people live and whatever they believe, give them a sense that they are a part of your vision to pursue justice, love mercy and walk humbly with the God who created them. Amen.
For our Nations’ Leaders
Lord, we are a people led by other people. We know our own human frailty and our unsought and unintentional failure. So we know that leaders of nations also have the limitations of their own humanity. We ask Lord, that your wisdom, your grace and your strength may impact the lives of our nations’ decision-makers so that they will seek justice for their people, lead with integrity and intelligence and seek the betterment of their citizens over the accrual of personal wealth and prominence.
For the Church of God
Lord, we are a people who call on your name and seek to live according to your will. We acknowledge that often we fail you and yet you have promised your ongoing love and forgiveness, mercy and grace. We stand on those promises, so Lord help us to remember that we owe much. Let us be a people of grace and love who value the things of God and whose hearts are committed to the care and support of all your creation through lives that express love and kindness so that we ‘act justly … love mercy and … walk humbly with your God’ (Micah 6:8).
* Quotes from Jesus and Justice, International Social Justice Commission, 2010.
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