The common view of justice is one of punishment. Someone does wrong and they receive a ‘just reward’ for their wrong deeds. This is, at best, an incomplete and warped view of justice compared to the biblical view.
Justice is: make something wrong, right. It is making something bent or crooked straight again. As all injustice and evil is a perversion of the just and good. For the Christian good and right are all things that align with the character and nature of God, that is Jesus Christ.
This definition brings healing to the world rather than meaningless pain. Justice as only punishing a wrong does nothing to change the brokenness in the world or our souls.
Making wrong right, helping those in need, and healing pain is the compassionate side of justice that brings it to completion. The social outcasts and marginalized are the object of our justice when we assist in lessening their burden of badness and evil that has happened to them.
We are just when we assist a woman who is abuse in escaping that abuse. The abuse is part of our broken world. It is a wrong in this world and is evil. It must be made right.
We make her life more right when we remove the abuse. Counseling can help make her internal world more right. For the right world is the one with goodness, gentleness, kindness, love, joy and all such good things.
The same can be said for feeding the hungry, providing shelter for those who have lost homes, consoling a loved one and any other action that causes a move towards what is right, good, and beautiful. A shattered ceramic in Japan is repaired with silver and gold along the cracks. The one that is made right is not without marks, but it has been made right again for its intended purpose and is beautiful.
Unfortunately, there are many evils in the world and some which cannot be made right simply by kindness and beauty. Punishment is very necessary when setting the world aright. What should we do with the one inflicting the abuse? We certainly cannot make the abuse ‘right’. Punishing the abuser does not undo the abuse. What good is punishment then?
Punishment for the sake of punishment is closer to vengeance. It is not right. Simply causing pain in response to evil does nothing but cause more pain. Worse, it can damage the heart of the one inflicting the punishment.
The goal is to make wrong right. The intent of justice as punishment, is causing the evildoers heart to change from bad to good. The goal is a change of the heart from wrong to right.
Justice is the straightening of the bent. The undoing of wrong and creating of right.