Generous Justice

Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us by Tim Keller
Reviewed by Blythe Meigs

This is a powerful book that speaks loud and clear how important justice is to God and how important it should be to His followers too.

This is what the LORD Almighty says:  administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another.  Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the immigrant or the poor.  Zechariah 7:10-11

Keller points out that according to the Bible, the justness of a society is evaluated by how it treats these groups.  Keller reminds us that justice does not just mean meeting basic needs, but that God’s goal for the poor is a life of delight.  God is not satisfied with halfway measures for the needy.  God calls us to investment in our brothers and sisters.  We are to come alongside and help them to thrive!  This really challenged me – what am I doing to help others?  What can I do to make a meaningful difference in the life of someone who has suffered injustice?

“Nevertheless, if you are trying to live a life in accordance with the Bible, the concept and call to justice are inescapable.  We do justice when we give all human beings their due as creations of God.  Doing justice includes not only the righting of wrongs, but generosity and social concern, especially toward the poor and vulnerable.”

Keller challenges the “strong” to disadvantage ourselves to advantage the “weak”.  This flies in the face of my natural instinct to protect me and my own, to protect what I have “earned”.  Keller reminds me that everything that I have is a gift from God – it isn’t mine at all!  It is a fact that there is an inequitable distribution of both goods and opportunities in this world.  Therefore, if I have been assigned the goods and don’t share them – it isn’t “stinginess” – it is injustice!

Keller goes into detail that coming alongside a community does not mean coming along to “fix” it for them.  It means empowering the decision-making to the community so they control their own destiny.  Keller gives several examples of churches that invested in communities to really empower them –terrifying to see how complex it is to come alongside a community and inspiring to see the results when it is done well.  Makes me wonder what I can do individually and what we can do as a church community.   Just as I get discouraged wondering if I could ever make a difference, Keller nudges me to remember that we serve the poor because it honors and pleases God and that will become a “delight” to me in and of itself.

Keller closes with a chapter reminding us of Proverbs 19:17 and 14:31 where God reminds us that when we are kind to the poor, God takes it as if we are kind to him and the flip side is that when we show contempt to the poor, it means we are showing contempt for him.

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.  Proverbs 19:17

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.  Proverbs 14:31

This book is powerful and a must read for anyone wondering how we can step up to speak out for those suffering from injustice in our society.
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