Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller
This book, which I had read when it was first published, was listed under recommended reading in Matt Perman’s fine book What’s Best Next. Tammy and I are reading it and being challenged on every page. Won’t you read along with us?
This week we look at Chapter 5: Why Should We Do Justice?
- You could make a good argument that our problem in society today is not that people don’t know they should share with others and help the poor. Most people do know and believe this. The real problem is that, while knowing it, they are insufficiently motivated to actually do it. Therefore, there is no greater question than how to motivate people to do what they ought for the hungry and poor of the world.
- The Bible gives believers two basic motivations—joyful awe before the goodness of God’s creation, and the experience of God’s grace in redemption.
- Human beings are not accidents, but creations. Without a belief in creation, we are forced to face the implication that ultimately there is no good reason to treat human beings as having dignity.
- What is it about us that resembles or reflects God? Over the years thinkers have pointed to human rationality, personality, and creativity, or to our moral and aesthetic sense and our deep need for and ability to give love in relationships.
- Every human life is sacred and every human being has dignity.
- The image of God carries with it the right to not be mistreated or harmed. All human beings have this right, this worth, according to the Bible.
- Regardless of their record or character, all human beings have an irreducible glory and significance to them. So we must treasure each and every human being as a way of showing due respect for the majesty of their owner and Creator.
- The image of God, then, is the first great motivation for living lives of generous justice, serving the needs and guarding the rights of those around us.
- There is another important way in which the doctrine of creation motivates Christians toward sharing their resources with others. If God is the Creator and author of all things that means everything we have in life belongs to God.
- Therefore, just men and women see their money as belonging in some ways to the entire human community around them, while the unjust or unrighteous see their money as strictly theirs and no one else’s.
- When you are harvesting your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back and get it. It is for the immigrant, the fatherless, and the widow. . . . Deuteronomy 24:14, 17, 19.
- If the owner did not limit his profits and provide the poor with an opportunity to work for their own benefit in the fields, he did not simply deprive the poor of charity but of justice, of their right. Why? A lack of generosity refuses to acknowledge that your assets are not really yours, but God’s.
- Therefore, if you have been assigned the goods of this world by God and you don’t share them with others, it isn’t just stinginess, and it is injustice.
- The most frequently cited Biblical motivation for doing justice is the grace of God in redemption.
- The Israelites had been poor, racial outsiders in Egypt. How then, Moses asks, could they be callous to the poor, racial outsiders in their own midst?
- “Israel, you were liberated by me. You did not accomplish it—I performed it for you, by my grace. Now do the same for others. Untie the yoke, unlock the shackles, feed and clothe them, as I did for you.”
- If a person has grasped the meaning of God’s grace in his heart, he will do justice. If he doesn’t live justly, then he may say with his lips that he is grateful for God’s grace, but in his heart he is far from him. If he doesn’t care about the poor, it reveals that at best he doesn’t understand the grace he has experienced, and at worst he has not really encountered the saving mercy of God. Grace should make you just.
- Fasting should be a symbol of a pervasive change across the whole face of one’s life. People changed by grace should go, as it were, on a permanent fast. Self-indulgence and materialism should be given up and replaced by a sacrificial lifestyle of giving to those in need. They should spend not only their money but “themselves” (verse 10) on others. What is this permanent fasting? It is to work against injustice, to share food, clothing, and home with the hungry and the homeless. That is the real proof that you believe your sins have been atoned for, and that you have truly been humbled by that knowledge and are now living a life submitted to God and shaped by knowledge of him.
- If you look down at the poor and stay aloof from their suffering, you have not really understood or experienced God’s grace.
- Many religions teach that if you live as you ought, then God will accept and bless you. But Paul taught that if you receive God’s acceptance and blessing as a free gift through Jesus Christ, then you can and will live as you ought.
- He is saying that a life poured out in deeds of service to the poor is the inevitable sign of any real, true, justifying, gospel-faith. Grace makes you just. If you are not just, you’ve not truly been justified by faith.
- My experience as a pastor has been that those who are middle-class in spirit tend to be indifferent to the poor, but people who come to grasp the gospel of grace and become spiritually poor find their hearts gravitating toward the materially poor.
- To the degree that the gospel shapes your self-image, you will identify with those in need.
- When Christians who understand the gospel see a poor person, they realize they are looking into a mirror. Their hearts must go out to him or her without an ounce of superiority or indifference.
- The doctrine of justification by grace contains untapped resources for healing.
- In a thousand ways society tells you every day that you are worthless because you have no achievement.
- But the gospel tells you that you are not defined by outside forces. It tells you that you count; even more that you are loved unconditionally and infinitely, irrespective of anything you have achieved or failed to achieve.
- Justified by sheer grace, it seeks to “justify” by grace those declared “unjust” by a society’s implacable law of achievement.
- I believe, however, when justice for the poor is connected not to guilt but to grace and to the gospel, this “pushes the button” down deep in believers’ souls, and they begin to wake up.
- Be like Christ: give much, give often, give freely, to the vile and poor, the thankless and the undeserving.
David Platt, author of Radical, has written an important new book. So important, I believe, that rather than doing one book review, I’m going to review the content chapter by chapter. Note, all of Platt’s royalties from this book will go toward promoting the glory of Christ in all nations.
Each chapter concludes by offering some initial suggestions for practical requests you can pray in light of these issues, potential ways you might engage culture with the gospel, and biblical truths we must proclaim regarding every one of these issues. These suggestions will also direct you to a website www.counterculturebook.com/resources, where you can explore more specific steps you might take.
This week we look at Chapter 5 ~ A War on Women: The Gospel and Sex Slavery.
- I never could have imagined that there are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade. I never could have comprehended that twenty-seven million people live in slavery today—more than at any other time in history. I never could have fathomed that many of these millions are being bought, sold, and exploited for sex in what has become one of the fastest-growing industries on earth.
- I landed in Atlanta and drove to my home in Birmingham. On Interstate 20. I have grown up going up and down this interstate that spans all the way to west Texas, and I had no idea that it is the “sex trafficking superhighway” of the United States. This same road that represents freedom for ten million travelers every year reflects the reality of slavery for countless girls every night.
- Surveys consistently show that over half of men and increasing numbers of women in churches are actively viewing pornography. Remarkably (but when you think about it, not necessarily surprisingly), statistics are similar for the pastors who lead these churches.
- Research continually demonstrates a clear link between sex trafficking and the production of pornography.
- Every time a man or woman views pornography online, we are contributing to a cycle of sex slavery from the privacy of our own computers. We are fueling an industry that enslaves people for sex in order to satisfy selfish pleasure in our living rooms, our offices, and on our mobile phones.
- Any and every time we indulge in pornography, we deny the precious gospel truth that every man and woman possesses inherent dignity, not to be solicited and sold for sex, but to be valued and treasured as excellent in the eyes of God.
- In Scripture, God takes slavery, a clear product of sin in the world, and turns it into a powerful image of his salvation for the world.
- Quite literally, the Bible says, Jesus became a slave of humanity in order to save humanity.
- The climax of the Christian message is that the Master over the world has become a servant for the world.