“Giving Tuesday” is on it’s way!
After the food gluttony of Thanksgiving Thursday.
And the shopping gluttony of Black Friday.
And another round of over-the-top spending coming on Cyber Monday.
Giving Tuesday is a timely reminder after a season of self-focus that there’s a lot more to the world than eating your fill and getting cheap stuff – it’s better to give than to receive. Most of marketing in any capitalist society is to convince you to buy more stuff. Giving Tuesday is about taking a break from the “me, me, me” that every generation exhibits and focusing on those less fortunate.
This is a particularly Christian appeal, as well. Two of my favorite verses have subtle and often overlooked messages that should convict us more than they do.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV)
This verse is something every Christian could agree with. But it’s not actually what the Bible says! The ESV translators added the words “only” and “also,” which don’t appear in the original Greek.
The NIV translation gets the real gist of this passage. Paul says:
“Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (NIV)
That is a shocking difference! In the verse before, Paul warns “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” This passage isn’t about remembering to take care of others after you take care of yourself – it’s about prioritizing helping others over helping yourself to more, more, more!
God truly understood our nature, that we would always look out for ourselves first – and that we’d never be satisfied. So we’d continually look to our own desires and never get around to helping others. We see it all day every day in the greed of corporations, the accumulation of wealth by few, and even in our own lives – not realizing that our ten sets of clothing are considerable wealth to most of the world who know what real poverty is.
So to be counter cultural and to stand out and to show God’s love, he calls us to focus on others before ourselves. It’s the only way we’ll look different than the world we live in. By being givers, givers who sacrifice and givers who put others first.
“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”
In the context, Paul isn’t about robbing banks or stealing gold from the Romans.
Paul is talking about taking advantage of your community, whether your Christian community or earthly community. People who evade taxes are stealing. People who live off the government simply because they don’t want to work are stealing. People who take advantage of their church even though they already have enough to get by on are stealing. People who look to their own advantage trying to get more, more, more when God has already met their needs are stealing.
Most of us have done plenty of stealing in our life, when looked at in this way. We tend to be takers, not givers – and for the Kingdom of God to advance, that has to change. Paul concludes this warning by saying that people who can work should not just work to meet their own needs, but “that they may have something to share with those in need.” When you’ve worked enough to pay off all your bills and live comfortably, you’re not done – God requires you to work more in order to have additional resources that can do His work!
Another option with the same result, is to humbly live beneath your means. Paul’s point is not to become workaholics, but to make sure we always have a surplus to help those less fortunate. We can do this by making more or by spending less of it on ourselves – and I’ve found in my own life that it only takes a little intentional effort to do both better.
So with those reminders in place, we encourage you to take a look at your finances and consider making a gift to any cause God places on your heart. In true Rogue style, remember God’s Kingdom is much larger than your church – there are so many missionaries and good causes and holy pursuits as well as needy individuals around us. For Giving Tuesday this week, find a way to partner with God, giving back a little of what He’s blessed you with to make an impact for good in your community and God’s Kingdom.