Generous Justice

How involved are you in pursuing justice in your community, your country, and around the world? In his compelling and thought-provoking book Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just Tim Keller unpacks the substantial amount of Scripture dedicated to God’s heart for justice and the oppressed, and suggests ways that Christians can apply biblical exhortations to pursue justice and care for the poor in our own realms of influence.

Keller argues that the gospel, rightly understood, will lead to a life of doing justice in the world.  He writes, “When you see that you have been saved in spite of your poverty and wretchedness, you will be compelled to see others as being in the situation you were in before God and will offer help.”

I always appreciate Keller’s careful exposition of scripture and I learned so much from reading so many passages about God’s concern for the vulnerable in the Old Testament, and Jesus’ caring for the poor and downtrodden.  Keller notes that Christians ought to seek to grow in Christlikeness in this area, which is often overlooked because people just don’t know what to do about it or feel like maybe the government is handling it.

Keller includes helpful explanations of word meanings and cultural context to illustrate how the biblical concepts of poverty and social justice are far more nuanced than what modern political systems and parties advocate.  He describes the different ways that justice and evangelism should work in tandem, rather than being seen as competing notions, and about the different ways Christians should care for individuals and families, communities, and seek social reform as they pursue justice.  Keller also breaks down the differences between relief (meeting immediate physical/economic needs), development (helping communities move beyond dependency on relief), and social reform (changing laws and customs to prevent injustice).

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I found Generous Justice convicting.  I’m definitely one of those Christians who has a concern for justice and poverty, but never knows what to do about it practically.  I had a great conversation with my husband about what our family can do about poverty and injustice, and we’re working on some family goals, including involving the kids.

I would highly recommend this book, both as a reference for what the Bible says about justice and care for the poor and as a helpful guide to get you thinking about ways to practically pursue those ideas.

How do you and your family pursue justice and care for the poor?  We’re still thinking of ideas and would love to hear your experience!  


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

2 thoughts on “Generous Justice

  1. Of course we model justice and mercy in our home, constantly encouraging our children to care for each other more than for themselves (work in progress…). However, when it comes to pursuing justice in the local and global community, I am so thankful to be part of a good church. Even as a small church, God has given us a steady stream of people from the community who need help, real help. We’re able to invest directly in their lives and welcome them into a group of people who will pursue justice and mercy on their behalves.

    Globally speaking, we recently sent a missionary to work in an orphanage in S.E. Asia. Again, we are connected to and invested in the children there. Our children pray for the children there, send them books and clothing and money, and get to hear how their gifts are received and used.

    Most wonderfully, though, through the Church the gospel is proclaimed. When I’m overwhelmed by the need for justice and mercy, it is so good to know that justice and mercy meet in our powerful Saviour Jesus Christ. Jesus loves justice and mercy and is pursuing them on my behalf, more passionately than I ever will.

    1. Lisa, you’re absolutely right that justice and mercy meet in Jesus. I thought Keller did a great job of describing how evangelism and mercy ministry need to work together – since sometimes people tend to think if we just save people’s souls we’ve done enough, and sometimes people focus on relief efforts to the exclusion of caring for people’s souls. In the book, Keller gives a lot of discussion to how the two aims are not and should not be mutually exclusive. As you said about your church, preaching the gospel and offering real physical help to people ideally work together.

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