What Does it Mean to Sow Justice in Our Lives

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“Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety; break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain down justice upon you” (Hosea 10:12). Hosea lived a long life and witnessed both some good times in Israel and a lot of the very bad times. In his prophetic life he accused Israel of three crimes: counting on their own military might instead of God, for making treaties with foreign powers, and for chasing after the Baals, the gods of fertility. In other words he was accusing Israel of forgetting that the Lord was their only strength, their covenant partner, and the giver of fertility.

This passage gives us three remedies for those failings. The first is that we should, “sow justice” for our lives. By developing the virtue and the practices of real justice, based on the law of God, we make peace possible in our relationships, in our neighborhoods, and among nations. Justice, like all virtues, is a habit gained over time and experience. It is rooted in the deepening knowledge of what is really good, and what is really evil. It is the habit of choosing the good, more and more often, until it becomes habit. In other words, it must be worked for, and it is not easy work. Again, like all the true virtues, it is oriented toward others. It is the recognition of,and the living out, of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The next remedy is another virtue, that is, the virtue of piety. Christians know that piety is one the the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is the virtue of having reverence for God and his wisdom. It recognizes that there are religious obligations to the Lord. One who is pious shows respect toward God and toward his creation and toward one’s neighbor. One who is pious in this sense, respects the infinite dignity of every human being as a child of God. In our piety we honor God. And what are the fruits of living our lives out of this piety? Inner peace and the possibility of turning others toward God through our pious actions and attitudes.

The third remedy is to turn away from our sinful habits and to “break a new field” by changing those habits and turning back toward God and his wisdom. Begin to observe and practice the commandments with new diligence. Throw off the false burdens and demands of the ego. Try to see the face of Jesus in all you meet, especially those who are suffering in any way. Practice the art of becoming a person for others, rather than one concerned only for the self and the false happiness of immediate gratifications. It is the great paradox of faith. By serving others, by sacrificing our immediate pleasures to care for the real needs of others, we not only find inner peace and joy, but we make positive differences in the world. If we do, or if we do not, Hosea tells us, “God will rain down justice upon you.” This is what God wants of us. If we have a well developed inner life and relationship with the Lord, we recognize that it is the deepest desire of our own very souls as well. Thanks be to God!

Lord, The world needs people of great faith, who are able to practice justice, who are pious toward you, your creation, and your children, and who are willing to recognize their own failings and to start anew in the wisdom of your commandments. Help us to be one of these people. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.