No Wisdom, No Justice
Over the last several years, as Black Lives Matter (BLM) and the woke church movement have grown, “justice” has become a popular buzzword. “No justice, no peace!” shout BLM protestors. “God loves justice, so we have to be about justice,” say woke church proponents. And yet, each of these movements is noticeably devoid of God’s wisdom. Sloppy exegesis, heretical alliances, and fruitless discussions consistently characterize those who attempt a biblical response at all. It is helpful for us to remember that God’s wisdom, which produces just living, is not obtained by submitting our thoughts to worldly ideologies or people’s personal experiences.
Proverbs chapter 2 helpfully details how to pursue wisdom (v. 1-4), where to find wisdom (v. 6-8), and why to practice wisdom (v. 5, 9-22). As many cry out for justice, we do well to recall how God says that a true understanding of justice is obtained.
“Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul” (Proverbs 2:9-10). These verses tell us plainly that understanding righteousness and justice and equity, even every good path, is possible. What is being promised here is the insight to discern between right and wrong in order to act impartially in accordance with God’s righteous will. Biblically, that is what is meant by justice. But is this understanding obtained by experiencing oppression? Is darker skin the key to accessing such knowledge? Must one be awakened to this wisdom through solidarity with a group of victims? No. God’s word teaches no such thing.
Notice the first word in verse 9 — Then. The flow of thought in this passage makes an understanding of justice attainable only after something else occurs. Something else must happen before one can acquire an understanding of justice as God defines it.
Verse 9 logically follows the first four verses of the chapter: “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure…” This is describing a vigorous pursuit of God’s wisdom.
Obtaining an understanding of God’s justice requires a diligent pursuit of God’s wisdom. This is important. Contrary to popular belief in our day, an understanding of justice cannot be gained by adopting the opinions of black folks or any other people group. It is also not gained by solidarity with the oppressed. Understanding does not come by experiencing injustice first-hand, nor does it come by believing the testimony of those who claim that they have been mistreated. Yet these presuppositions are foundational to the woke movement.
It is common to hear people claim that discerning the unjust systems of inequality in America is so easy that one must be blind (or racist) not to see it. (Hence, the term woke – to be awakened from deadened, sinful naivety that is unaware of systemic injustices against the oppressed.) If understanding woke justice requires no pursuit of God’s wisdom, then we can safely conclude that woke justice is not God’s justice. Understanding God’s justice, true justice, requires a vigorous pursuit of God’s wisdom from the only source where God’s wisdom is found.
God tells us the singular source of His wisdom: “For Yahweh (the LORD) gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Pro. 2:6). The reason wisdom is available to those who pursue it is because wisdom has been clearly communicated by a gracious, generous God (cf. Pro. 2:7). God is eager to dispense His wisdom through speech: “from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Those who wish to understand justice will not gain insight from social justice proponents with little or no regard for God’s word. Indeed, “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who fear Yahweh understand it completely” (Pro. 28:5).
Hearing from unbelievers or even Christians who have failed to interpret today’s movements and past experiences in the light of God’s word cannot produce clarity on the issue of justice. Solidarity with those who hold strong opinions about race-related issues, but whose authority is not the Bible, only increases confusion and creates division in the church because God’s unifying wisdom is absent. All of our thoughts and pursuits regarding justice must be saturated with specific, carefully interpreted passages of Scripture because Scripture is God’s clear and readily-available-to-us wisdom. With His superior wisdom instructing our hearts, He promises that we will “walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous” (Pro. 2:20), regardless how unpopular those paths may be to an unappeasable world.