Week 4, Day 5: How to Respond to Injustice

The Ultimate Judge

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:18-21

You may endure suffering that’s unjust, but you can trust it never goes unseen.

In 1995, one man was elected to a 10-year term as judge to help settle cases between right and wrong. He was a frequent speaker at schools and was well-regarded and re-elected in 2005. His entire platform was built on a strong sense of justice and getting “tough on teen crime.” And tough he was.

He sentenced thousands of students to detention centers for incredibly minor infractions — one as simple as a Facebook page mocking a local vice-principal. Teens were hauled into court, persuaded — some claim even coerced — to waive their right to legal counsel or lawyers to defend them, and swiftly sentenced to months and sometimes years of detention. Why?

Apparently the judge had secretly helped form a group of investors to build a private, for-profit detention facility; a center for which the builder paid the judge a finder’s fee of over $2 million. It wasn’t until 2007, when parent complaints sparked an investigation, that his ulterior motives were revealed and the judge himself was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

The abuse of authority is often immeasurably destructive. The common response is outrage. And such zeal for justice seems appropriate. When we see injustice we should respectfully seek all the help we can, but there will be times when human justice fails — sometimes even for doing the right thing. There will be times when there remains no appeal left in the court of man. It is then that we must remember there is a higher court of justice with an ultimate Judge. And those who remain mindful of him and Christ’s suffering are precious in his sight. You may endure suffering that’s unjust for a time, but you can trust it never goes unseen.

Application Questions

  • What are some examples of times when people suffer for no reason or for doing the right thing?
  • What are some examples of ways we sinfully withhold respect from unjust authorities who lack goodness and gentleness, and why should we show them respect?
  • How do we follow the example of Christ in suffering while still upholding justice with the means we’ve been afforded?
  • How can Christ’s example give hope to the sufferer who is stuck in an unjust system?
  • Take a moment respond in prayer to what this passage reveals about who God is, what he wants, what you need, and what you face. 

Memory Verse:

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18