Do not pervert justice or show partiality.
Everyone, says Moses, must practice justice, no matter where they are. But saying so doesn't get the job done. God's people need help to keep their integrity. So judges and elders among the tribes would administer justice evenly, because, no matter what one's station in life, the temptation to bribe an official or to distort a wise word for personal gain was always there.
As God's people, we need such leadership because we do not get along very well. If you have trouble believing that, read the last few chapters of Judges, or Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. Peek into the history of the worldwide church, and you will find bribery, twisting of the truth, inequality, and abuse.
The culprits of these injustices were often those who were called to do justice-the judges and elders, as well as bishops, ministers, and deacons. That's not surprising, though. When a person has greater responsibility to do justice, that person has greater opportunity to twist a righteous cause, sometimes for personal gain and sometimes because of pressure by powerful people.
Unjust leadership hurts the faithful and distorts the gospel. God's people need righteous leadership. Without it everyone would be doing what is right in their own eyes. Church leaders also need prayerful support so that they may pursue justice with integrity.
Fill the leaders of your people with your Spirit, Lord, that they may be wise and fair, and protected from the temptation for personal gain. In Jesus' name, Amen.
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