The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. Psalm 33:5
We tend to focus on either God’s love or his justice, but both are important.
The more deeply we love the more offended we’re with injustice because it becomes personal. Someone we care about is being mistreated. Daily we read reports of injustice in our communities. People we’re acquainted with are abused physically, mentally, emotionally or sexually. We want perpetrators held to account and brought to justice. The Psalmist often called on God to act on behalf of the oppressed and bring justice. Yet God’s compassion delays his justice.
When we read the Old Testament, we see countless times God gave people opportunities to repent. Joshua’s conquest was God’s judgement on the Amorites and Canaanites. For 400 years (Genesis 15:12-16), God gave them time to change their ways. They were a greedy and oppressive people who practised child sacrifice. But God’s patience is meaningless if he never executes judgement. It would mean he’s waiting for no reason. The difficulty comes when God is so patient it’s mistaken for indulgence. We begin to think that because God doesn’t act immediately that he won’t act at all.
Later, the Israelites were taken out of the land because of their evil ways. This was after God had sent many prophets to call his people back to righteousness, and threatened them with judgement if they didn’t repent. Eventually, when his people didn’t respond, he sent them into exile.
Currently, we live in a time of God’s grace and favour, but it won’t last forever. One day God will again enact his judgement which we read about in the book of Revelation.
In our enthusiasm for God’s love, let’s not forget his justice.