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The delicate balance between “charity” and “justice”

There is a very big difference between charity and justice. Charity throws out a life raft, a quick fix.

Justice makes other people’s problems my own problems: “You don’t have food? Take mine! You don’t have shelter? Move in with me! You need money for medical bills? Let me liquidate some of my things so I can help pay a bill.”

Through the years, Homes of Hope has had thousands of volunteers come and go. What many westerners (first-world) may not realize is that giving “stuff” or cash to an individual in the South Pacific culture can ostracize them from others, create a hand-out mentality, a sense of entitlement, and create a loss of dignity. Charity is doing something for others that they are capable of doing for themselves.

Biblical justice is more than charity; it is about a radical, selfless way of life. It means taking steps to advocate for the vulnerable, and changing social structures to prevent injustice. It means taking action to make things right.

The mission of God engages real life situations. It is not simply a call to Sunday worship. Without confronting systems of injustice, religious faith becomes escapism.

Thoughts that challenge me:

  • How should I be confronting injustices in the world around me?

  • How can I ensure that I don’t entertain materialism and consumerism, which both can exasperate injustice?

  • What changes can I make to live a radical, selfless life? How will the understanding of Biblical justice affect how I spend money on myself? How I conduct my career? The way I choose and live in my neighborhood? What friends I choose?

Notes taken from: “Generous Justice; How God’s Grace Makes Us Just”, Timothy Keller; “What is the Biblical Vision of Justice?”, The Bible Project


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