However, when I think about the idea of “sharing”, I believe that it goes further than just giving out presents. I think it has less to do with giving out Xbox 360s and Ipods, and more to do with providing for those who are in need.
After I finished my finals (I can just smell a 4.0 now!), a few classmates and I decided to do some volunteer work for a couple of days at a local food bank. We’ve been doing varying things throughout the year; so this time was really no different. The tasks we did were pretty menial; mainly sorting out donations and making care packages. Though the work was pretty basic, I think that we all shared a sense of satisfaction that came with giving of ourselves; even if only a little bit. But I still couldn’t help but think that I didn’t really do that much.
Not too long ago, I read an article about the top ten charity donors in the world. On that list were philanthropists like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Gordon Moore. These folks – at no surprise – were all billionaires and were more than capable of giving what they did. In fact, people of this stature are not only in a position to give a lot of what they have, but to give most of what they have.
Under each person’s bio, there were a series of questions they were given. When asked why they don’t give most of their fortune away to charity (most billionaires can afford to give away 99% of their fortune and still live insanely comfortable), most of their responses were interestingly similar. They all indicated that they don’t give away everything so they can use what they have left to create more money and continuing giving over the long term.
This raises an interesting question; one that I’ve subconsciously thought about for a long time: How can we give to those who are in need if we don’t have much to give in the first place? How can we reasonably expect to give of ourselves if we’re swimming up to our necks in debt, we’re morally bankrupt, or bombarded with our own issues? Are we really in a position where we can make a difference in someone else’s life?
I think there’s a lot we can learn about taking care of ourselves before we can reasonably expect to bless others. Ephesians reminds us to “…labor, working with [our] hands the things which are good, so that [we] may have something to give to him who needs.” (4:28). In that respect, I think that taking cues from ministers who preach about prosperity and financial blessings can be good for us. For the record, I’m not talking about those cats who are all about money, money, money; and who pimp the Bible for their own personal exploits (those are the people that I think Timothy 6:10 clearly warns us about). Instead, I’m talking about people like Jabez; who specifically asked God to give him stuff (and a WHOLE LOT of it) for the sake of doing God’s will for others.
I guess what I’m wondering is: given our call to help ‘the least of these, shouldn’t we make an effort to pursue the material blessings that are out there? Perhaps the bigger question is: can we promote God’s true gift to the world (Jesus, the Perfect Lamb) without promoting physical and material gifts?