Generous Justice

If there’s one thing we Americans do not do well, it’s handling money. We lose it. We spend it. We don’t like giving it away. Those of us who actually do handle money well tend to have the wrong attitude about it (pride much?), putting us back at square one. We typically forget that our money is not really ours at all. It’s God’s. We also tend to neglect what we are supposed to be doing with God’s money. Not only that, but we are supposed to be dealing with all of our resources, including time and possessions, in the same manner. This is where Generous Justice comes into play. Did you know that how you handle your money and things tells about how you understand the Gospel? Oh, how this book packs a punch. The kind that sends Mike Tyson into Build-A-Bear.

At first glance the cover may come off as being about penal substitution or something, but this book entails something much simpler yet deeper. God’s “justice” is more than just punishing the bad guys. Tim Keller takes a theological dive into Deuteronomy and unveils that true justice (called mishpat in Hebrew) is also about doing the right thing for the people as is due, like serving widows, feeding the poor, and providing for the needy. Keller uses Scripture to show that God expected Israel to leave no one behind in terms of material need, and that same provisional love extends to Christians today.

Using a combination of Scripture and anecdotes, the author paves the way on how to do social justice God’s way, not the political way or any other. The whole premise of the book is founded on Christ’s love for us. Keller asserts that a Christian should be able to look at a homeless person and feel love that causes them to provide for the person’s needs, because on a spiritual level we are all poor like the homeless man. We had no hope, and God showed us His grace, thus providing us with what we need (God’s justice). After experiencing God’s grace as such, we treat people in need with that loving justice as well (hence the subtitle, “How God’s Grace Makes Us Just”). In other words, if you aren’t generous with your time and money, that means you may not really understand the Gospel. Big words.

My favorite parts of this book were the practical ones. Tim Keller talks bluntly about the difference between numbered donations and actually getting your hands dirty in your community. In the last third of the book the author wades through many practical issues: what generosity looks like as a Christian individual, how the church works out this concept of being generous, and how the church can play a role in fighting corrupt local policies.

All in all, Generous Justice tackles a subject many Christians shy away from in an easy-to-read manner. This book really resonated with me as I feel that being generous (namely with money) has always been a bit of a struggle for me. I definitely recommend this to everyone, but if you have a hard time giving at any level you especially need to get your hands on this thing. You’ll how the heart of God goes out to those who society has long left behind.

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just

Hating Change

One of the most common traits among human beings, in my opinion, has to be our hate of change.

You wake up, plan your day, and when the guy at McDonald’s gives you the wrong order (or you simply see how much their fake food is anymore) you become frustrated, if not angry.

Are you very familiar with money? Perhaps you have a lot; perhaps you had a lot. Either way, it doesn’t take long to realize it can be drained very quickly. Much more quickly than it is usually gained. James 5:1-6, anyone?

Some people seem to embrace change, though. Examples include: people who like to move often, crazy college kids who can’t commit to someone longer than a week, etc. But is that a love of change, or a love of variety? Personally, I feel that change requires either some sort of sacrifice or some twist in our original plans. Ahh, now not so many ’embracers’, eh?

What’s paradoxical about humanity here lies in our quests for success. Especially my generation (the Millennials). Everybody wants to go as high as possible in life, but we want to do so without changing much, with as little effort as possible. Is this a good thing or not? Maybe this is why the vast majority of people around the world leave a very small impact on the world.

When I think of change, one thing I can say is if anyone accepted it well it was Jesus. He went from having all of his God-powers to emptying himself into nothingness, into the humble form of man (Philippians 2:6-8,  2 Corinthians 5:21). Now that’s what I call change. And to think —  through all of the towns he travelled to, all of the love he had for us that drove him through some painful circumstances (let’s see…um…his death?), Jesus embraced change. And 2,000 years later, he is still the most influential figure on the planet.

We should embrace change, too, because our Savior did. I’m not using Jesus as a crutch to gain success, but I do see some serious importance in the change we all know and [tend to] hate.  Our plans will often not go our way, and sacrifices will have to be made. However, if we are filled with love and care for others the way Jesus did, embracing change won’t be so difficult.

Final thoughts: I’ve never seen/heard of a businessman, leader, church planter, etc., who were very successful in their own fields and didn’t embrace change. The truth is that the best leaders embrace change, adapt, and take risks. Smart, focused risks, of course.

When we tackle seasons of change with boldness and new ideas, we stretch. And when we stretch ourselves, we always grow. What a super simple concept! Yes, but simplicity is often overlooked.

Do you resist change? Have you gone through any crazy changes in your life recently?

Speaking of all this change, I hope you’ve had the chance to check out the iPad 2. I may be biased and in love, but I’m just sayin’.