Read Amos 5:11-15, 24 Constant Justice
Amos 5:24 “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
By comparing justice to the powerful current of a river (in contrast to a dry steam bed that experiences only seasonal flooding) the Lord emphasizes that justice must be constant in a society.
Corruption is like a cancer that is spreading onto healthy tissue. Jesus said, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life more abundantly” (John 10:10).
• What checks and balances exist in our country to ensure that justice is
“constant” in the face of corruption?
• Where are our checks and balances most vulnerable to corruption?
Amos 5:15 “Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.”
There is much evil to hate and much good to love.
• When we are outraged about injustice (“much evil to hate”), why is it healthy to also recall much good to love?
“Maintain justice in the courts” Amos 5:15
Justice must be maintained constantly. Neglect of doing right leads to deterioration throughout a society. “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” When an apple begins to decay, it emits gases that the good apples can absorb and begin to rot also. Every person and collective society has the propensity for corruption, therefore every person and society needs a constant effort of maintaining justice.
• What is the alternative to “maintaining” justice?
Amos 5:13 “The prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil.”
As we read in 5:11-12, Amos spoke to a culture that reeked with corruption. He is not placing a gag order on the people of God preventing them from speaking out against injustice. Amos himself was outspoken and crude in the words he spoke to injustice calling the rich women who were oppressing the poor “fat cows” (Amos 4:1).
When we are angry, we ratchet-up the rhetoric to protect our wounded parts and to get the attention of others. Listening helps us understand the hurting person and allows the hurting person to ratchet-down their inflammatory rhetoric.
The words of the 8th century BC prophet Amos are reflected in the first century apostle James. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
• When you have been upset, can you recall a time when listening resulted in you taking more productive action?
Four Rules for a Better America
Dr. John Gottman, a well-respected marriage researcher, challenges us to use the insights gained from working with highly-conflicted couples to our current highly-conflict country.
Rule 1: Focus on other people’s distress with empathy. Empathy is the cornerstone for successful relationships.
Rule 2: Keep your positive versus negative comments and interactions to a ration of 5:1. The positive things you say versus the criticisms that you level should be at a 5:1 ratio at least. That means five affirming, praising, and loving tweets and Facebook posts for every critical one.
Rule 3: Avoid contempt with everybody, all the time.
Research shows that contempt (belittling and disrespectful speech/ attitudes/actions) kills relationships.
Rule 4: Learn to cooperate and have dialogue with those with whom you disagree. Before you speak, see if you can understand what the speaker before you has said. Listen to understand, and then frame you rebuttal.
• In what ways do these rules correspond to the truth proclaimed by Amos, the prophet of the Lord God Almighty in Amos 5:11-15, 24?