Children all over the world experience injustice—prejudice, persecution, mistreatment, and other difficult and painful challenges. Ministry leaders equipped with the David Caleb Cook Foundation’s Life on Life discipleship program are helping children to find hope and healing in Jesus and to trust Him to set injustice right.
Below is a portion of a lesson for young teens about God’s justice:
God Loves Justice
The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.
God’s Word is clear—He loves righteousness and justice. But we live in a broken and fallen world that is filled with evil. Slavery, sex trafficking, corruption, and abuse of the poor are far from what God loves. The Bible is also clear on another point—God is tender toward the sufferings of the oppressed, abused, poor, and vulnerable. He is a powerful defender and rescuer and will always bring justice, either in this life or in eternity. His justice includes both righteous anger and strong compassion.
Think about the worst injustice you have experienced or seen. How did it make you feel? Close your eyes and think about those feelings of anger or helplessness. Then give these to the Lord. God’s righteous anger against injustice is even greater than yours, and He is never helpless. Today, no matter what injustice surrounds you, rest and hope in God. He is powerful enough to bring justice in any situation, even in ways we do not see.
In the following section, words the teacher can say out loud to the students are in bold type, and instructions for the teacher are in regular type:
- How would you define fairness?
- How would you define justice?
- Do you think there are differences between fairness and justice? If so, what are they?
Allow 2–3 students to share their thoughts. Do not correct them. They will learn more about the differences as part of the lesson.
“Fairness” can be described as doing things in a way that does not favor one person or group over another. However, your view and my view of what is fair in a situation may be different because we may both want different results. Fairness is often based on how we see things in comparison with others.
“Justice” means doing what is morally right based on God’s standard. God alone is good and right, and justice is one of His character qualities. God’s justice restores things to the way He intended, and this quality comes from His love. Unlike fairness, God’s justice is the same for everyone—it does not depend on comparing the situation or people with others.
God’s justice has 2 qualities: His vengeful anger against evil and His loving compassion, which restores those who have been treated unjustly. His justice always brings about restoration and healing, either here or in eternity.
Teacher Tip: Some of your students may live with daily injustice, such as discrimination, abuse, or other difficult situations. Be sensitive to how students respond to this topic, and offer to talk with them after class to comfort or pray with them.
Injustice is an offense against God’s justice. It is a wrong done that violates another person in some way. It is a mistreatment or abuse of another person.
- What are some examples of injustice you have seen or experienced?
Remind the students not to use names when they share their stories. They should share only the situations.
God is always just, so the Bible is filled with verses about justice. Let’s read a few of them.
Divide the students into groups of 3–4. Give the first group the Bible and the reference for 1 of the verses below. Have a student in the group read the verse aloud. Then ask the question below the verse. Give the teens about 2 minutes to talk about the answer with their groups. Repeat this for each of the verses, picking a different student to read the verse each time.
For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
- What does this verse say about God’s view of justice?
[God] is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
Teacher Tip: Explain to the students that “iniquity” means injustice or immoral behavior.
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up
to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right
in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends,
but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Teacher Tip: If necessary, explain that “to avenge” means to punish for a wrong done.
Have the students remain in their groups for the rest of the lesson. After the discussions about the verses, ask the class:
- Based on these verses, how do you think God feels about injustice? Explain your answer.
- Why do you think God tells us to leave vengeance to Him?
Teacher Tip: Your students may believe that all bad things that happen are the result of sinful choices and behavior—either their own or those of others. While sometimes this is the reason, it is not always true. Sometimes bad things, such as disease or early death, happen simply because we live in a broken world.
God loves all of us. When a person treats another person unjustly, the Bible tells us that God is angry. The Bible also tells us that God is always good and that He always acts justly.
The best example of God’s justice is the sacrifice of Jesus. Because God is always just and holy, our sin separates us from Him. Even though He loves us completely, He is always just. So He could not forgive our sins without a payment to restore our relationship with Him. Instead of making us pay the debt, which we could never pay, He sent His Son, Jesus, who died as a sacrifice to pay our debt of sin and to restore our relationship with God.
- What do you think you can do when you experience or see injustice?
It may seem like there is very little you can do about injustice in your family, community, or country. But there are many things you can do that will make a difference. Over the next few lessons we will learn some ways to have God’s heart for justice.
1. Ask God to open your eyes to see the world through His eyes. Many times we see injustice and do not recognize it because it is so familiar. Sometimes injustice is part of our cultural or family traditions—we treat others the way we have been taught because it is the only way we have ever known. But God does not see things as people do. When we see others as valuable and worthy of love, we begin to act in ways that are more just.
2. Pray for change. God hates injustice. We can pray for His justice in every situation.
3. Help when it is safe. If there is something you can safely do to help yourself or another person who is experiencing injustice, you should do it. For example, if someone is being cheated and you can safely stand up for the person, you should.
4. Set a good example. Even when others behave unjustly, you can make just and right choices in your own life. Sometimes people behave unjustly because they do not know God’s standard of what is right and true. Through your just, loving actions, you can help them to see what justice is.
5. Trust God to avenge injustice. Trying to punish a person who has hurt you or someone else is usually not a wise choice. You may put yourself into danger, and often what you are able to do does not change the situation. Whatever you do to punish that person will also likely cause you to make choices that are unjust. We will talk more about this in another lesson.
Listen to what the Bible says about acting justly.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
- What does this verse tell us to do along with doing justice?
- How can these help you to act justly?
God is always just because He is holy and perfect. But evil and injustice are part of our sinful world. Even in unjust situations, we can show justice in our own lives.
Think of an unjust situation you have seen in your community. Share that with your group. Remember not to mention names, only the situations.
Teacher Tip: You may need to give the students an example to help them see the injustices in your community. For example, is there someone who is being bullied?
Give the students 3–4 minutes to talk about their ideas. Then ask each group to share 1 situation with the class. Remind them not to use the names of the people who have behaved unjustly or been treated with injustice.
Now think about the unjust situation your group shared. What is 1 way you can help to bring justice in that situation? Remember the first thing to do is to ask God to help you see the situation through His eyes. Then pray for change, help when it is safe, set a good example, and trust Him to bring justice.
Give the groups about 10 minutes to talk about how to bring justice in the situations they thought of by using the tips they learned in the lesson.
You can help to bring justice in your family, community, and country by showing compassion and mercy to everyone, including those who are being treated unjustly. You can seek to love others the way God loves them and ask Him to give you His eyes and heart to treat those around you with justice and to help you to recognize injustice when you see it.
- Think of a time you experienced injustice.
- What is 1 thing you can do to bring justice to the unjust situations in your own life?
- Do you think the things you planned to do would help with the situations of injustice? Why or why not?
If you have been treated unjustly, remember that God hates injustice and loves righteousness. He cares for those who are mistreated and abused, and He will bring justice for the needy, now or in eternity.
Listen to this verse about the way God brings justice.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
God’s justice is like a stream that never fails. It rushes over injustice, covering it and washing it away. It is powerful, bringing justice even in situations where it seems that justice will never be possible. We can trust that God is bringing justice in every situation because He is always good and always just.
Close with a blessing based on Amos 5:24. If you have a pitcher of water available, pour a little bit of water over each student’s hands as you speak this blessing over him or her.
Blessing: May God’s justice roll on like waters and righteousness like a never-failing stream in your life. May you show justice to others and help them to see that God is always just and