God is compassionate and generous. He “gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matthew 5:45 NLT).

For the last few weeks, I’ve been attending a class in which we are studying Timothy Keller’s book, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just. It is an excellent description of God’s character, of what he desires, and how commands us to live.

The theme is giving to others what they deserve. That means treating everyone fairly. On the one hand, not taking bribes from the rich and powerful. On the other hand, not neglecting to help and support the poor and helpless– people who are often abused. Support does not mean “a handout.” It means helping the poor gain the education, jobs, and protection they need in order to live in health, peace, and prosperity.

My husband is part of a group of people who are displaying generous justice. They’ve established a residential home for women who are recovering from addiction. This recent article, written about one of the residents of GRACE HOUSE, testifies to the value of their work.

Keller says that Christians have often focused on inner holiness (which is important) but when we can become overly concerned about ourselves and neglect the needs of others. Or, like the self-righteous religious leaders of Jesus’ day, we can pat ourselves on the back for putting a few pennies in a homeless person’s hand and think God is pleased with our generosity.

When we see our deficiencies, we can either despair or make changes. In the following poems, I express my mind and heart on this topic of generous justice.

When I look at my deficiencies,
I end up in despair.
So, instead, I look at Jesus
And find perfection there.
Righteousness and justice
Flow from his throne
Truth is his garment
Mercy is his robe
He has no unkept promises,
No uncompleted plans;
Everything he says,
In his time, comes to pass.
Righteousness and justice
Flow from his throne
Truth is his garment
Mercy is his robe
His eye is on his children
The ones who fear his name
He feeds them in famine
And rescues them from death
Righteousness and justice
Flow from his throne
Truth is his garment
Mercy is his robe
I will keep my eyes on Jesus
Compose a song of praise
With my voice and life
I’ll tell the world of his ways
Righteousness and justice
Flow from his throne
Truth is his garment
Mercy is his robe

To the soul who feels deep agony
About her sin-filled history,
Grace is a soothing melody;
It sets her guilty conscience free.
That soul with joyful gratitude
Collects the gold she has accrued
And uses it to purchase food,
Blankets, shelter, new, unused;
This she gives without fanfare
To those whose earthly goods are scarce—
Widows and orphans, who in despair
Need to see God’s love down here.
God the Father is well pleased
About the righteousness he sees.
He gives her things for which she pleas
And her praises never cease.
To the soul who feels no remorse
About her deeply hurtful course,
Grace is a thing to be endorsed
For the folks who need it most.
In her gold, she puts her trust
Yet fails to see that hidden lust.
Because her heart is covetous,
Her gifts of mercy are unjust.
With trumpet blast in loud grandeur
This soul gives hand-outs to the poor.
Blind to the famine at their door,
She wonders how they could want more.
God the Father is not pleased
About the arrogance he sees
Because his justice does not cease
He will bring her to her knees.

Jane Ault

4 Responses

  1. Thanks, Jane. A very thoughtful meditation that goes with our Women’s Bible Study of James.

    1. You are welcome, Sandy! It’s exciting that you are studying the Book of James right now. Yes, there’s certainly a lot about generous justice in that book. God bless your study group.

  2. Jane,
    I so appreciate your timely and thoughtful devotional. A homeless woman came to our Bible study last night. She was offered support and help with housing etc. There was much discussion later about how it was handled and if the right steps were taken. A good pastoral friend once commented regarding a similar situation stating….”I’d rather be a fool for Christ, than miss an opportunity to serve”. How we need His Holy Spirit to direct our steps daily and “be the church”.

    1. Yes, Donna, we must have the direction and empowerment of the Holy Spirit in our lives in order to have discretion, as well as love, in reaching out to those who are most needy in society. As Jim Elliot said, “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

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