Experiencing a healthy independence as workers affords us the opportunity to be blessed by practicing generosity. There are always people in need all around us. We don’t work just for ourselves. There are those in our society who are in need for legitimate reasons. As Christians, we are called beyond provision for our own needs to the point of considering the authentic needs of others. If we have a healthy approach to labor ourselves, we are free to be used by God to help others.
“In these polarized times, few words conjure as much distaste in liberal circles as ‘evangelical Christian.’ That’s partly because evangelicals came to be associated over the last 25 years with blowhard scolds. . . Partly because of such self-righteousness, the entire evangelical movement often has been pilloried among progressives as reactionary, myopic, anti-intellectual and, if anything, immoral. Yet that casual dismissal is profoundly unfair of the movement as a whole. It reflects a kind of reverse intolerance, sometimes a reverse bigotry, directed at tens of millions of people who have actually become increasingly engaged in issues of global poverty and justice. . . Evangelicals are disproportionately likely to donate 10 percent of their incomes to charities, mostly church-related. More important, go to the front lines, at home or abroad, in the battles against hunger, malaria, prison rape, obstetric fistula, human trafficking or genocide, and some of the bravest people you meet are evangelical Christians (or conservative Catholics, similar in many ways) who truly live their faith. I’m not particularly religious myself, but I stand in awe of those I’ve seen risking their lives in this way — and it sickens me to see that faith mocked at New York cocktail parties.”
– Nicholas D. Kristof, Evangelicals Without Blowhards, The New York Times, Sunday Review, July 30, 2011
2 Corinthians 8-9
It is very easy to fall into the temptation to believe that our work is “all about us.” We can be very selfish and self-centered when it involves our jobs and careers. Often, American individualism is in full-flower in the workplace. However, God’s plan of redemption is a community reality. God’s Kingdom has inherent values that are community focused. Consequently, as Christians we must learn to overcome our selfish temptations and recognize our responsibility to contribute to the greater good around us.
WEEKLY READINGS OVERVIEW
“God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does” – so says Martin Luther. He is right. Our work can contribute to the common good. In that sense, we actually work for each other. We live in community with one another – particularly as Christians! In the church, we belong to Christ and each other. Our ability to work also allows us to be generous and give to those in need. As we work with a sense of community in mind, we can rise about the temptation to believe the world revolves around us and our accomplishments. We can actually learn how our faithfulness in our endeavors actually can become a blessing to the world around us. How connected do you feel in your work life to others? As we read this week’s readings, note how we can become productive people who contribute to the good of others.
ISSUES/QUESTIONS TO ADDRESS
1. How has work helped you to develop a healthy independence?
2. How are you using this independence to be a source of assistance for others who are in need?
3. How can we more effectively meet the needs of the impoverished?
4. How responsible are we for poverty on a global scale?
5. What is a “culture of generosity”?