|When Jesus wanted
to encourage his disciples to never give up prayer, he related a story
about a tenacious widow and an indifferent judge. (Luke 18:1) Did Jesus
tell a fictitious story to illustrate a truth? Maybe, but I suspect he
knew a real woman who sought and received justice just as he described.
“In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!” (Luke 18:2-5)This particular judge didn’t believe he had to account for his actions to God; he had no compassion for the suffering of others. He had no zeal for justice to prevail. He liked being in a position of power and status. He was out for whatever was good for him and didn’t care about anyone else.
The widow, in contrast, had no power or status. She had no influential family, father, brother, or uncle to bring pressure on that judge. She used the only strategy she had--nagging. She nagged that judge; she pleaded with that judge; she refused to shut up and go away. She wanted justice and knew justice was owed her.
Perhaps her persistence was being noticed by the public and gaining sympathy for her, and maybe, even laughter behind the judge’s back.
The judge realized that he would have no peace unless he did what he should have done in the first place--grant her justice.
Jesus has a three-point lesson in this story:
First, God is neither unjust nor uncaring. If a civil judge who is unjust and uncaring will hand out justice to a persistent petitioner, how much more will God, who is just, merciful, and righteous, bring about a timely justice for his chosen ones.
Second, the people of God should keep on praying and never give up since God intends to give them justice.
Third, faith like this may be in short supply when he returns.
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:6-8)Life, this life, is just not fair. Hardworking people often stay in poverty. Compassionate people often experience burn-out. Courts don’t always dispense judgments based on truth or mercy. Birth defects, disease, injury, and natural disasters affect people indiscriminately. There is nothing fair about war, crime, or domestic abuse.
But injustice in this world, does not mean God is ignoring the situation. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)
Faith in Christ Jesus is faith that persists in trusting that God is just, merciful, and righteous. (Jeremiah 9:24) This faith makes us confident in the justice to come when Christ returns. (I John 4:13-17)
This faith continues in prayer to God, expecting him to act with mercy and justice in our lives and situations today. This faith knows that justice is as much a part of God’s name, his nature and character, as compassion and love.
Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name , the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:5-7)Did you notice that when the LORD proclaimed his name that his name describes his character?
When we go to God in prayer, we must go with faith in his just, righteous, and merciful character. Our petitions need to be as direct and plain as the widow’s plea: “Grant me justice against my adversary.” And we must continue in prayer throughout our lives knowing God’s plan is to grant justice to his chosen ones.
For the Scripture References and
related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible
Study Guide: Grant Me Justice