Men of Justice
Our lives are bombarded each day with the reminders of the the injustices of the world that surround us. From human exploitation to human trafficking, from Syrian refugees to personal economic hardship, it’s hard to know what to do, if anything, about what we hear and see. Yet God calls us to be men of justice.
The Hebrew word for justice ‘mishpat', in it's most basic form means to treat people with honour, regardless of social status, race or age, but its meaning holds so much more depth to it. It means to give people their rights. That’s why when this word is found in the Bible it’s always used to encourage us to take care of the rights of the widow, the orphan, the immigrant and the poor; those whose rights have been taken away.
Sadly in the world we're a part of, the statistics stack up against men who are often known more for the harm, damage and pain that they cause to vulnerable women and children, rather than good. Yet God calls men to care for and protect women and kids, not harm them.
I guess when we hear the name Elisha our first though isn’t a man of justice. Mighty prophet, double portion anointing and faith filled are all words which probably come to mind. But an encounter Elisha has with a widow in 2 Kings 4 helps model to us what we can do to help bring justice.
This woman's husband has died, she has a debt and no money to pay it and is about to sell her children into slavery to pay it. It’s a tragic situation, but the reality is this is something which is still happening all over the globe even today. Kids sold by parents into slavery to pay for debt they can’t afford.
In the midst of his day to day life Elisha stops and listens to the plight of the widow. Elisha was a busy man like you and I and yet when he hears the pain of this widow he chooses to stop and listen. He gives his time and his attention. In a recent Ikea advert children were asked what they would like from their parents for christmas and the answers were surprising. Instead of toys, games of presents they asked for their dads to read them a story and spend time with them. Listening is more powerful than you think and it’s the first thing to bring hope to someone facing an injustice, someone who cares.
He asks her how he can help. Men have this in built preference to try and fix things, whether that's from watching our dads with screwdrivers when we were kids, or from something much deeper within our DNA we are often known for having a practical solution. Elisha waits and asks this woman what she needs. He doesn’t want to create a one size fits all solution, he get’s to her personal need. It’s easy to hear and see the issues of injustice and look for a umbrella policy to fix the system, but God’s way has always been to get involved in the messiness of life coming close to the heart of a person.
He does something practical and invites God to do the supernatural. When we hear the problems people are facing and we see the resources we have in our own hands we can often feel overwhelmed that we are ill equipped to deal with the issue. God reminds us that with the little in our hands he can do a lot. Elisha includes the whole community, encouraging her to do something simple and practical and he asks God to step in and do the supernatural.
Around three years ago God stirred my heart for the cause of justice, for broken and oppressed women and kids around the globe. For the last two years Enable, Elim’s Midlands regional men’s conference, has partnered with Elim Missions BeFree Campaign, sharing with men the tough stories of broken lives but also the hope they have found in Jesus through BeFree projects around the world. Men have fundraised through our challenges and to date over £32,000 has been raised towards the work of BeFree.
I believe God is calling men not to sit on the sidelines of apathy and indifference but to step up to the call of justice that is on all of us, and to step alongside the lives of the broken, the hurting and the oppressed. Why? Because it reflects the character and heart of God, who as the psalmist in Psalm 68 describes, is a “father to the fatherless, a defender of widows.”
Look around you, to your work place, your commute, your neighbourhood or within your family. How is God stirring your heart to bring justice to the lost, the last and the least in your world?
Rev Simon Whitley - Coventry Elim Church / Enable & MPower