8 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth.
9 And with righteousness shall the Lord God judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
10 For the time speedily cometh that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy; and he will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire.
(2 Nephi 30:8-10)
equity – The quality of being fair and impartial (Oxford English Dictionary)
We all want life to be fair, and we all see plenty of evidence that it isn’t. There’s something in our spiritual DNA that abhors injustice, that wants to assist the downtrodden and the oppressed, that wants people to be rewarded for their efforts and not to be penalized for things that they can’t control.
But we all know that this world isn’t fair. Some people who work hard never see the fruits of their labors. Others accumulate wealth and power through deception or coercion.
In the passage above, Nephi elaborates on a prophecy from Isaiah which he quoted a few chapters earlier. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah (Jesus Christ) will one day correct the injustices in the world. He will “judge the poor,” which will be wonderful for them–they will finally receive the compensation they deserve. He will “reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.” People who have been oppressed and abused because of their humility will now have a powerful ally. Everyone will be treated fairly and impartially. He will judge us all equitably.
And what about the abusers, the bullies, the persecutors? They will also get what they deserve: no more and no less. We tend to overcompensate. When we see injustice, we go after the oppressor, and we don’t always know when to stop. Vindictiveness can result in a punishment which far exceeds the original crime.
But God will judge with “equity.” I find comfort in Nephi’s statement that God “will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire.” Why do I like that sentence? Because it suggests that destruction is God’s last resort. If He can spare his people by reforming their adversaries, then He will. If He can spare them by providing incentives and punishments to their adversaries, then He will do that. But if the only way to spare His people is by destroying their adversaries, then that is what He will do.
Today, I will be grateful that God judges with perfect equity. I will do what I can to follow His example of righteous judgment: looking after the poor and the downtrodden, righting wrongs where I can. And I will remember that, in the end, all wrongs will be righted by a perfect and equitable Judge.