Book Review: Generous Justice

I am on the older end of a generation that is known to fight for justice.  I have enjoyed many of Tim Keller’s sermons and books, so Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just is a book I’ve looked forward to reading for quite some time.  I agree with much of what Keller shared, most of which the Scripture that he highlighted throughout the book.  I appreciate when an author realizes that it isn’t about his opinion, but rather about pointing people to Jesus and the truth of God’s Word.  Keller obviously has a good handle on who he is as a pastor and a man in light of God’s Word.

This book is particularly poignant during this Christmas season as we are drawn to the need so prominently displayed around us.  As Christians, we are often guilty of deciding who deserves justice and who doesn’t.  I am particularly guilty of making this judgment call my measuring others against my “good deeds”.  I’m grateful that God reminds me in Isaiah 64:6, that “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags”.

While I was reading, there was a ton to highlight and a lot to ponder.  I have posted some of the things that I highlighted below….great book!

  • Most people know that Jesus came to bring forgiveness and grace.  Less well known is the Biblical teaching that a true experience of the grace of Jesus Christ inevitably motivates a man or woman to seek justice in the world.
  • There is a direct relationship between a person’s grasp and experience of God’s grace, and his or her heart for justice and the poor.
  • Micah 6:8 And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
  • Justice is care for the vulnerable.
  • Justice reflects the character of God.
  • If God’s character includes a zeal for justice that leads him to have the tenderest love and closest involvement with the socially weak, then what should God’s people be like?
  • Justice is right relationships.
  • Justice includes generosity.
  • Deuteronomy 15:4-5  There should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to posses as you inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.
  • It is not our lavish good deeds that procure salvation, but God’s lavish love and mercy.  That is why the poor are as acceptable before God as the rich.
  • Jesus’s ethic of love attacked the world system at its root.
  • In Isaiah 29:21, when the people are charged with “depriving the innocent of justice,” God’s conclusion is that “these people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
  • The Bible is clear that Christians’ practical love, their generous justice, is not to be confined to only those who believe as we do.  Galatians 6:10 strikes the balance when Paul says: “Do good to all people, especially the family of faith.”
  • Only if you see that you have been saved graciously be someone who owes you the opposite will you go out into the world looking to help absolutely anyone in need.
  • 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.
  • When Job says, “I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and turban” (Job 29:14), he is speaking about a social consciousness that infused his daily life as completely as his clothing covered his body.
  • Human pride and lust for power leads to racial and national division, strife, and hatred.
  • Partnership and friendship across racial barriers within the church is one of the signs of the presence and power of the gospel.
  • You can’t love people in word only (1 John 3:16-17) and therefore you can’t love people as you are doing evangelism and discipleship without meeting practical and material needs through deeds.
  • Deeds of mercy and justice should be done out of love, not simply as a means to the end of evangelism.  And yet there is no better way for Christians to lay a foundation for evangelism than by doing justice.
  • As the well-known hymn says, “’Tis not with swords loud clashing, no roll of stirring drums, but deeds of love and mercy, the heav’nly kingdom comes.”
  • Isaiah 1:17 Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
  • Proverbs 14:31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker.
  • A life poured out in doing justice for the poor is the inevitable sign of any real, true gospel faith.

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