For those who believe that the Bible does not contain thoughts on social justice, has never read it. (Read Amos). I spent three years with the coal mining union as their community organizer, meeting pastors and other ministers in a bid to attain a more fair system of organizing – and I have come to appreciate Labor Day.
Below are my favorite passages on Labor relations – including one new one, which if interpreted in a different light, demands a little shake up to the social order every now and then.
He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 RSV)
And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien– Because they do not fear Me,” Says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:5 NKJ)
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you. Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. (James 5:1-7 NKJ)
“There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!'” Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! (Luke 18:2-8a NLT)
Sometimes you have to shake up the system to get Justice. The Widow lived in an extreme patriarchal system, giving her little to no rights – but she was constant in her demand for justice. She fought against at least two things that we know of – the unjust act with her adversary and the system which she lived in. Yet, like all those who yearn for justice, she labored on and won over both injustices.
To all those who labor…
God bless you.