Day 4: Righteousness, Justice, and Equity
To receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity.
The other day, one of my boys struck his brother with malicious intent because he wanted the toy that his brother was not sharing. He then spit out the most horrible insult he could conjure: “You’re not my best friend.” His sense of fairness had been violated, so he sought to make things right by force. Realize dads, that you are often called upon as judge and jury because your children are infinitely creative in finding ways to fight. Study Proverbs, therefore, “to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity” (1:3). “To receive instruction” again restates the need for “discipline” (v. 2a) and “wise dealing” describes the discernment and insight to reason your way through complex situations. Discernment is . . .
. . . knowing what God wants, whereas insight is knowing why he wants it.
Wise dealing then trickles down to the ethical results of righteousness, justice, and equity. Who you are determines how you act, for character leads to conduct and then to consequences. For this reason, the wise in Proverbs are righteous and the righteous wise. God’s perfect will is always the wisest course of action. Our world mistakenly believes that children are inherently good and will eventually stumble to the right decision. Yet a child’s heart problem is not ignorance, but a lack of wisdom rooted in sin nature (22:15a). So dads, do not appeal to the wisdom of your child’s internal goodness but to the external Word of God. For God’s Word alone reveals the right way to live in the world which God created and still sustains. God’s way produces a righteousness unheard of by the world.
Consider also “justice.” Does your child live in accord with both the rules of the man and the rules of God? Learn from Proverbs how to talk with your children about injustice. Look for ways to help the underprivileged and serve with ministries seeking to right the wrongs in this fallen world. Then relate everything back to Scripture by discussing accounts of God’s justice with your children.
“Equity” comes from the meaning of being “level” or “even.” The wise speak uprightly without placing hindrances in the path of others: “Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right” (8:6b). When your children complain, “It’s not fair,” then take the opportunity to gently instruct them on the meaning of equity. Show them how thankful we should be that God gave us mercy and grace instead of what was fair (Rom. 6:23).
Finally dads, consider your example: Are you righteous before God and righteous before others? Are you humble in your personal walk (Mic. 6:8)? Such righteousness, justice, and equity require wisdom. Thus James invites you to request: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (Jas. 1:5). Specifically ask for wisdom from God, since it will come from no other source. Ask with passion, not passivity (vv. 6-8), for the Proverbs describe godly wisdom as elusive, hard-fought, and difficult to obtain. The Proverbs require much effort to understand and apply. Therefore, you must cry out with the psalmist: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. . . . Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” (Ps. 119:18, 36). God will generously grant wisdom when you pray, yet he speaks that wisdom through the study of his Word. So do not lounge around like spiritual royalty as servants stuff grapes into your mouth. Instead, labor in the vineyard of Proverbs, plucking each juicy grape like succulent fruit from the vine. Savor each truth until the juice seeps into your soul.
Dads, have you diligently asked the Lord for wisdom to live rightly? If not, write down a few areas of life where you desperately need the wisdom of God. Then once you pray, wait actively on the Lord. Open up the book of Proverbs, for God grants wisdom to those who seek it.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Instruct me in wise dealings at work, at home, in my relationships, and with my finances. Teach me to walk every day in righteousness, justice, and equity. Show me how I can be godly even in a fallen world that is not always fair. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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