The trial dominated the news, but the “not guilty” verdict in the Zimmerman case has left many now feeling dominated by a sense of injustice. A few days ago I heard a political analyst make the following statement, “It was a fair trial, but I don’t think that justice was served.” The outbreak of protests across the country indicates that many people share her opinion.
While the trial was conducted in accordance with legal standards, and a jury determined that Zimmerman should be acquitted on the basis of self-defense, many still feel a sense of moral outrage. It doesn’t seem “right” that Zimmerman, who could have prevented the altercation by not following Martin, appears to be getting off without bearing any responsibility for his actions. Yet under the laws of the state of Florida, Zimmerman didn’t do anything illegal.
While many feel he was motivated in his actions by negative racial stereotypes, no one but Zimmerman actually knows what was in his mind and heart that evening. Unfortunately, our judicial system is limited in how deeply it can probe into the mind and intentions of another human being. We can only approximate true justice at best, and sometimes that leaves us deeply unsatisfied.
All of us have been in situations where we experienced a sense of injustice. Maybe it was the fight we got into as a child that was actually started by the other kid, but we received the blame. Or a fellow employee used one of our ideas to gain favor with the boss and didn’t give us any credit. Perhaps it was that speeding ticket we got when we were simply following the rest of traffic. Those of us who are minorities know the sense of injustice we have experienced at being treated differently.
There are no easy fixes for the sense of injustice because there is no universal agreement on what is just. Only God truly knows what was in the mind and heart of both Zimmerman and Martin that evening, and that is why only God can truly determine what is justice. Scripture makes it clear that God notes all the thoughts and intentions of each person. Deuteronomy 32:34–35 states, “The Lord says, ‘Am I not storing up these things, sealing them away in My treasury? I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.’”
We need to understand that God’s vengeance proceeds out of true justice. It is holy and righteous, and free from self-gratification or payback. It differs from human vengeance that all too often is motivated by a sense of injury or a feeling of indignation and the desire to inflict pain on another. Human vengeance frequently only perpetrates further injustice.
I think we would all do well to remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nearly 50 years ago at the March on Washington. He said, “In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”
I pray that no matter what your views on the outcome of the Zimmerman trial, that you will remember that God is just, and in the end His justice will stand. And if you have suffered a personal injustice in some situation, God sees and knows it, and He will establish justice, true justice, not human vengeance.
Please join us this Sunday at 9:00 AM or 11:00 AM. My dear friend, Winkie Pratney, will be our guest speaker with an engaging and timely message.