"The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little."
This was the advice that Paul, the most influential missionary, whose writings formed a major part of the Christian Scripture, gave to the first Christian community in Corinth some 2000 years ago.
Obviously, for 2,000 years human beings have not changed much when it comes to giving. Paul apparently was dealing with hesitation and fear fostered by the reigning spirituality of scarcity. Paul wrote, “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.” And then he quoted from Hebrew Scripture the line I opened this blog with. He was referring to the story of Israelites in the wilderness where God gave them manna (bread) from heaven and they were to collect what they needed and no more. (Exodus 16: 15b-18)
The assumption behind this advice was that the way resources were distributed was not fair or balanced. And the solution to restoring the fair balance was for those who had a lot to give to those in need. Notice that Paul immediately addressed their fear by saying “so that their abundance may be for your need” in return. That is, if you give, you get back.
This reciprocal idea about giving is sustainist thinking. The act of giving activates the circulation of resources, as opposite to holding onto what we have, which stops the flow of resources. If we stop thinking about giving as a one-time linear process but a circulatory one, we begin to notice how things starts to move and flow in the blessing and gracious directions. And in good time, we receive again. What we receive might not be exactly what we gave but the gifts would be enriching, nonetheless. A sustainist community would actively seek to realize the vision, "the one who has much does not have too much, and the one who has little does not have too little."
For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
An update on the experiment of giving from last week’s blog:
In one week, 26 friends donated and we raised $1,435. I want to thanks those of you who have given. However, to reach our goal for the Kaleidoscope Institute, we need a lot more folks to give in the coming weeks. So keep the blessings flowing by giving yourself. If you have contributed already, appeal to others who had been KI-blessed to become part of the flow of blessings
Reflection Questions for Proper 8 (Year B)
2 Samuel 1:1. 17-27
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Eric H. F. Law
For competent leadership in a diverse changing world
Upcoming Opportunities to Study with The Sustainist:
Kaleidoscope Summer Institute: Missional Ministry in the Grace Margin, Holy Currencies and Community Transformation
St. Paul’s Cathedral Center, Los Angeles, CA
Holy Currencies: Creating Sustainable Missional Ministries
Rainbow Lodge Retreat Center, North Bend (near Seattle), WA
Register at: www.kscopeinstitute.org