I’ve always thought this an awesomely provocative video. A year ago I did a talk on money, and how as followers of Jesus we should think about money. As I was preparing it I realised that often my reaction to the inequalities in the world is that I should spend less, and not be so wasteful. But then I realised that all I was actually doing was being tight, not generous. God is generous and if you have a look at parts of the bible like Leviticus 19 and Deuteronomy 15 you’ll discover that he wants people who claim to follow him to mirror that generosity.
On a side issue, too often people think Old Testament and flinch, or think OT law – irrelevant. But if you take the time to check out what God was saying you may be surprised. God was trying to give his people some good stuff – he was saying this way that I am giving you to live isn’t a drag but is the best way there is, full of powerful visual reminders of who he is. If the Jews had ever lived out the important bits of the law they would have had a revolutionary society and economic system in which there would have been no long term poverty, immigrants, widows, orphans, the disenfranchised would all have been provided for and taken care of. The only place we see this working out is in Ruth where Boaz follows the instructions in the law to be generous and provide for the poor, not to be greedy by not harvesting every grain of whatever it was he grew from his fields.
So back to Leviticus 19 – where the whole ‘love your neighbour’ thing comes from – it is essentially talking about what it means to be holy – God’s definition is vastly different from one lots of Christians have today. Yeah there are several culturally contextual things but justice and generosity come out, and holiness isn’t about sitting on your own exuding peaceful thoughts – holiness is public and social. God knows the temptation to greed in all of us and when we are greedy we mistreat others – the roots of oppression and slavery (more on that to come later).
So coming back to my original point I realised if I am to live generously that means living more simply, but the money or excess I save is to be given away to those who need it. Hardly revolutionary I know but its easy to kid ourselves by spending less when the goal of spending less on stuff we don’t need is to be more generous to those who are in need…