Exodus 23:1-3 – 1 “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. 2 You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, 3 nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.
God is interested in justice, true justice. We do not need to put other labels in front of the word justice. In fact, doing so will quickly make us turn from justice toward something else. Thus, social justice, racial justice, climate justice, immigration justice, or any other word added to justice risks the concept of justice as a whole.
As God sets the standard for the nation of Israel, a nation to live under his particular guidance and authority, he points them toward justice. Notice what we are not to do. Do not lie to get your way in a court (v1). Do not join up with a group to win a lawsuit that is unjust (v2). And, do not show partiality on the side of the poor (v3).
That bit in verse 3 grabs my attention. In modern social justice arguing, siding with the poor is precisely what is expected. After all, the poor have not experienced equity. They have been victimized by a society that is clearly shaped against them. But the Lord does not hold with modern critical theories of oppression. Instead, God is clear that we are to do nothing to pervert justice in a hearing. We do not side with the rich. WE do not side with the poor. We side with the one who is right in the particular hearing.
May we learn to be a people of true justice. May we not be tempted to anything less. Adding something to justice will not leave us in a place that honors the Lord.