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Wisdom in Public: Justice and Mercy

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

Proverbs 21:3

Watch Week Six, Day One

This week, we’re talking about what wisdom looks like when we walk out of our homes each day. It’s easy to be blameless and wise in those moments before we’ve kicked the covers off and opened our eyes to face a new day, but wisdom is a tool that begs to be used in community. Wisdom is a discipline that flourishes in response to daily challenges.

When Jesus taught His disciples—and by extension, us—how to pray, part of His prayer was this: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

When we practice godly wisdom as we work, study, date, drive, or serve, we are widening the space for God’s will to touch the earth, through us. We who follow Christ have the incredible privilege of bringing kingdom ideals to our sphere of influence.

In public, one of the most potent ways to exercise wisdom is to advocate for justice and mercy. If you do a keyword search for “just” in the English Standard Version of the Bible, you’ll find the word used eighteen times in the book of Proverbs alone. Justice is so inseparably associated with righteousness that to ignore justice is to be deemed a fool or wicked (Proverbs 29:7). Proverbs 28:5 states plainly, “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.”

Justice is not a dirty word, or one associated with a political platform. It’s so much bigger than that! It’s a public declaration of a theological truth: every person bears the image of God and should be treated accordingly. Wisdom in the public square doesn’t end with justice, but with mercy. Wisdom acknowledges that we live in a fallen world and stretches out her hands to soothe the aching people within it. We get a beautiful picture of this tender mercy in Proverbs 31:20, “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” Mercy doesn’t demonize the poor, because wisdom teaches that the righteous find security in God and not possessions—therefore the righteous can be in any economic class.

Mercy connects the dots between injustice and poverty: “The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice” (Proverbs 13:23). Of course, Jesus Christ is the most flawless and radiant example of wisdom in the public square. He is our model for what justice and mercy looks like. Jesus declared the start of His public ministry by quoting Isaiah 61:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18–19

What’s the good news? Jesus came not to condemn, but to save, to heal, to restore, to set free. As His followers, we get to do the same.

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Daily Question

Read Proverbs 31:8–9. How does this passage apply to your life?

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Comments (1)

This verse speaks to my heart about needing and wanting more and more of the Holy Spirit so that I can be in tune with His leading and prompting of who He wants me to bless. I also know I have to be open to going outside my comfort zone sometimes and I want to have a willing heart to obey when the Lords whispers to do so.

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