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God’s Economy

Sarah Arthur

I once lived in a large household with a woman who took eating seriously. At communal meals, she jumped in line first, piled her plate as high as possible, and then hunkered down, with her elbows on the table, shielding her plate from the rest of us. She took as much as she could, even if she didn’t finish it all and even if other people didn’t have enough.

pancakes FTR TSP 178432929I thought she was greedy until I heard her story. She grew up in a poor family with eight brothers. If she didn’t fight her way to the dinner table and guard her plate once she sat down, she went to bed hungry. Later, she lived on the streets, abusing narcotics and buying drugs instead of food. Again, she was hungry. Then she got clean, gave her life to Christ, and joined our household.

Even though we provided plenty of food, her survivor instincts were still in place. It took months before she relaxed enough to lower her elbows and longer before she could enjoy meals without worrying that the food would run out.

Not Enough?

We live in a culture in which food is abundant. Grocery stores can’t sell all the products on their shelves, so food is hauled away by the truckload and thrown out. Yet children in our country go to bed hungry every night. Something is seriously wrong with our economy.

teen eating pancakes2 TSP 92188375Greed is not only taking as much as we can because we want it, but also beating everyone to the front of the line and taking more than we need because we’re worried supplies will run out. It’s hoarding what we have, even when other people go without. Greed is the fear of not having enough.

The Bible offers a different way of thinking. First, it assures us that “God will fully satisfy every need” (Philippians 4:19, NRSV). God is aware of human need and has designed the world to sustain life.

Unfortunately, sin gets in the way. People take what isn’t theirs, injure the environment so that it cannot produce, and oppress those who can’t stand up for themselves. People go hungry. So God calls Christians to share. Even when we fear that we won’t have enough, we are called to give.

Enough

When we give for the sake of Christ, there is enough. Jesus told his followers, “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38, NRSV). When we give to those in need, we participate in God’s economy; and we are blessed. When we give up time and money for God, they stretch like rubber bands. When we practice Sabbath rest, we don’t lose a day; we gain the energy to thrive during the week. When we tithe, we don’t lose material goods; we gain joy and meaning, and our budgets stretch a little farther.

Is there enough? God says yes. We can too, if we say no to greed.

 

DIG DEEPER

This week, whenever you eat, take only what you need. If you’re in line, let others go first. Serve someone else at the table before serving yourself. With permission, go through your household’s pantry and set aside items to give to your local food pantry.

Sarah Arthur is a speaker and author. Her nine books include Walking with Bilbo: A Devotional Adventure through The Hobbit. When she isn’t busy feeding two small boys, she volunteers in youth ministry at Sycamore Creek United Methodist Church in Lansing, Michigan, where her husband Tom is pastor.

—from devozine (November/December 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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