We often think of giving as one way, but the biblical writer Paul sees it very differently. For Paul, the work of God is not a linear process, but a cycle. When we give, it’s not just the receivers who get a gift, but also us.

Why We Give and How We Give

When addressing the need for the Corinthian church to give to the impoverished church in Jerusalem, Paul says:

“The one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one should give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or from compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to cause all grace to abound to you, so that in everything at all times, because you have enough of everything, you may overflow in every good work. Just as it is written, ‘He scattered widely, he gave to the poor; his righteousness remains forever’” (2 Corinthians 9:6–9 LEB).

Saint Paul's 7 Lessons on Giving

Here are seven lessons we can glean from what Paul said to the Corinthian church:

  1. If you give much, for the right reasons, you will receive much.
  2. Give what you feel led to give.
  3. God wants you to be cheerful when you give.
  4. God will be abundantly gracious to givers.
  5. If you give what you feel led to give, you will have more than enough.
  6. When you learn to give, you will overflow in every good work.
  7. Giving to others is an expression of righteousness—right living (Psalm 112:9).

When you express what Paul said in seven points like this, his statements suddenly become both shocking and hard to believe. (“Could God really view giving this way?” we may ask.) Yet giving is a fundamental law and order of God. It is how the world is meant to function. Nothing that we hold is truly ours—instead, what we have (everything we have) is a gift to steward. It is meant to be shared (see Luke 19:11–27).

Put simply, giving is a two-way street. One could even say giving is a three-way street: the person who is benefiting from the gift; the person who gives who is changed by the act; and God who blesses those involved.

When we give to others, all sorts of possibilities are opened up. The cycle of poverty can be ended and the cycle of our lives can be transformed in the process. The question is: Will we believe Paul and act on his words?*


Enjoy this article? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live the currency of love.



*This article is adapted from my earlier article, "7 Lessons about Giving from Saint Paul." The research for this article became part of my 2019 book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.

The seasonal shift is upon us: kids are going back to school; fall planning and projects have begun; and the weather is about to change. It’s easy to look back at the summer and think, “What if …” but is that what God wants for our life? Regret is a fickle friend. I think there is a better friend to be found.

Regret assumes all of the knowledge of today, much of which wasn’t available when past decisions were made. And as such, “regret” is never accurate. Regret also leads to self-pity—and “self-pity” only tells lies.

But there are some helpful things about regret—the self-reflective nature of regret can be used for good. So what if we had the self-reflection without the self-pity and without regret itself? What if, right now, each of us took the things we wish could have been different and turned them into positive change? That effort begins with reflecting on God's character.

God's Character: A Reminder for Times of Regret

Although God himself is unchanging in character—he is no fickle person—he is prone to make changes. God knows that things must be different to be better.

We see this in the life of Moses; Moses’ entire journey starts with his deep sadness about the enslavement of the Hebrew people (Exodus 2:11). Moses first responds incorrectly, with taking the life of a persecutor. Filled with worry, and surely regret, Moses runs to the land of Midian (Exodus 2:15). And this is where the story could end—with Moses living out his life as a fugitive. But God wants something from Moses; he wants to redeem Moses and use his life for good. Yahweh says to Moses:

“Surely I have seen the misery of my people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their cry of distress because of their oppressors, for I know their sufferings. And I have come down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from this land to a good and wide land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, … look, the cry of distress of the Israelites has come to me, and also I see the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them. And now come, and I will send you to Pharaoh, and you must bring my people, the Israelites, out from Egypt” (Exodus 3:7–10 LEB).

Moses believes God, but knows the severity of these words. He understands that the task of freeing the Hebrew slaves will be incredibly difficult. Moses says to God:

“‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out from Egypt?’ And [Yahweh] said, ‘Because I am with you, and this will be the sign for you that I myself have sent you: When you bring the people out from Egypt, you will serve God on this mountain’” (Exodus 3:11–12 LEB).

Moses’ life will not be one full of regret after all, but instead one of advocating on behalf of the oppressed. And God himself will be with Moses. And today, God himself wants to be with you. God wants to change the world through your life (John 17).

Turning Regret into Advocacy

The new seasons of life bring with them new opportunities. Indeed, each day is new, but the feeling of a new season helps us to make commitments and take actions. Some of these actions are fueled by regret, while others are fueled by desire. But what if our new commitments were instead fueled by our love for our God?

We have an opportunity, right here and right now, to make a decision to walk alongside those in need. To be a people who, like Moses, lift up those on the underside of power—those without a voice. And we have a God who wants to see that happen.

We can turn our regret into advocacy. In the process, we may find that the next seasonal transition is marked by far less regret because our lives are too filled by doing good for the self-pity to reign.

Our God hears our cries and hears the cries of the hurting. The Exodus story proves that. What can you do this coming season to walk alongside those who desperately need an advocate? How can you change your lifestyle to better align it with God’s ways? Imagine the power of the Holy Spirit working through you this season to transform lives. And imagine all the glory you could give to Jesus when that happens.

Here is the season. Embrace it. Don't live in the past. Think of what you can do in the future. May God renew you. May he turn your regrets into advocacy.*

 

Become an Advocate Right Now

Join us in renewing Bihar, India—one of the most impoverished places in the world where few have heard the name of Jesus. Or partner with Jesus’ Economy by donating your time or birthday to making the world a better place.

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*This article is adapted from my earlier article, "A New Year Renewed by God: Reflections on Exodus."

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” 

This proverb is a good start, but ultimately inadequate. We must do more than just feed the poor and teach them how to put food on the table. We must walk with the impoverished through the process of coming out of poverty—as their friends. And then, we must connect them to the right resources, so that their livelihoods are sustainable.

What if there aren't enough fish?

We must do more than teach the man to fish—we must fish with him for a while to see what the fishing is like. And then, we must ensure that the fish will always be around. This means connecting people to a larger pool of fish. It means considering not just local economies but the global economy.

When we consider how to best help those who are hurting, we have to think through not just the immediate problems but also the long-term difficulties. We should be asking questions like: How can I help someone not just build a business but be connected to a global marketplace?

So we could say the proverb should be revised to:

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and connect him with the best fishing holes and you feed him for a lifetime.”

But what if the fishing is ruined by the environment or what if people steal the man's fish? How can we fix those types of problems? Our proverb may need even further revision.

Life is about more than fishing

Life is about much more than “learning how to fish.” If you teach a person to fish, but don’t meet their other basic needs, they will continue to struggle. It's not good enough to have fish to eat if I don't have clean water to drink or a medic clinic where that can care for my wounds.

Also, if you teach a person to fish but don’t help bring ethical standards to their community, their society will eventually fall apart. The good work will be undone.

There are deep rooted problems in society and these problems are ultimately spiritual. Corruption can destroy any good work. That's where ethics and thus healthy churches come in. We have to change the environment we live in if we want to see lives changed. We have to change the society.

"I will make you fishers of men."

And let’s also not forget what Jesus taught us about fishing in general: We are to do more than meet needs—we must lead people into God’s kingdom and the lifestyle that kingdom demands. Jesus' earliest disciples were fishermen and look what he said to them:

"And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' They immediately left their nets and followed Him" (Matthew 4:18–19 NKJV).

Perhaps, then, we need to revise the proverb once more:

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and connect him with the best fishing holes and you feed him for a time. Join a man in lifting his society out of spiritual and physical poverty and he will never be hungry again."

Although, often the "man" you find will turn out to be woman, whom we should never hesitate to empower. She can lift her entire family out of poverty. Thus the proverb is just as accurate when it reads as follows:

“Give a woman a fish and you feed her for a day. Teach a woman to fish and connect her with the best fishing holes and you feed her for a time. Join a woman in lifting her society out of spiritual and physical poverty and she will never be hungry again."

Let's look at the whole picture

We need to do everything we can to look at the entire picture: the spiritual and physical problems affecting people. I believe this is how we empower people to overcome poverty. This is what creating a new, spiritual and physical economy for those who need it most is all about. This is what creating Jesus' economy is about.

I hope this article inspires you to do more than teach a man to fish. I hope you decide to really love someone today. Walk with people on their way out of poverty and work with them towards sustainability. Help instill biblical ethics into their community. In the process, I am betting that you will find—as I have—that it alleviates some of your own spiritual poverty.*


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*This article is based in part on my previous article, "Moving Beyond 'Teach a Man to Fish'."

You know the feeling: God has called you to do something for him, but you're unsure if you can. The act of service feels too great. Perhaps all you need to take that step of faith is a little perspective. Let's consider how Jesus' economy works. From that consideration emerges three steps that will help you commit to God's work in your life.

1. Consider the Value of Self-Sacrifice

We can see Jesus' economy, his perspective on our resources, in how his earliest disciples responded to his call:

“Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, [Jesus] saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him” (Mark 1:16–20 ESV).

Jesus’ earliest followers literally dropped their livelihoods to follow him—they completely dedicated themselves to him. Similarly, we are called to make sacrifices for Jesus—to show others love by giving, praying, and investing in them. We're called to embrace Jesus' economy of self-sacrifice.

2. Consider the Value of Acting Now

To a man with a recently lost love one, Jesus said:

“’Follow me.’ But [the man] said [to Jesus], ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:59–60 ESV).

For Jesus, it’s all about God’s kingdom. There is no time for hesitancy; after all, Jesus (who is God incarnate) is staring right at this man. What can be more important? For us, it too should be all about God’s kingdom. Our lives should be all about living God's economy. And that means that our time, as a resource, is of incredible value to God. Hesitancy has a price. Is God calling you to act now or has he has asked you to wait?

3. Consider the Value of Looking Forward

From a different man, Jesus heard this in response:

“‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:61–62 ESV).

There are no hesitations in service to God’s kingdom and there is no looking back—it’s all about what God is doing here and now. It’s all about putting our hand to the plow of God’s work. Jesus calls his followers to look forward and move forward.

If you love God, you love God's kingdom and you love people. If you love the kingdom, you’re not going to ask yourself what else is important: you’re going to just live for the kingdom. Look forward to what God is doing and embrace it with your whole life.

Living Jesus' Economy

Jesus has called us to join him in his work—to believe in it with all we have. The cost may be hard to bear or understand at times, but when it’s put in the perspective of all that Christ has done for us—dying for our sins—it seems like very little.

God has asked us to demonstrate our belief by bringing good news to those who feel hopeless. We are called to drop everything for him. This is what Jesus’ economy is all about: envisioning what the world could look like and joining God in the process of making that vision a reality.*


Want to go deeper into this subject? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love.


*This article is adapted from my earlier article, "God's Economy Part Two: Truly Following Jesus."

The Bible talks a lot about how God blesses those who follow the path of righteousness. In passages like Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17, we’re told that the one who trusts in God will be blessed. But when I look at the world, it seems that, more often than not, the good guy loses. Meanwhile, the deceptive seem to win. I'm going to ask a risky question: Why trust God when the wicked prosper? And how do I seek God’s blessing in a world that feels unjust?

It is this precise issue that Jeremiah the prophet addresses in the book of Jeremiah 17:5–13. Writing in the late seventh century and early sixth century BC, to the southern kingdom of Israel (called Judah), Jeremiah teaches us three things about how to seek God’s blessing.

1. Acknowledge God’s Intent for Blessing 

Echoing Psalm 1, Jeremiah provides a principle of how things should work.

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:5–8 NIV).

Those who trust in people (flesh) over God will find themselves withering away in a desert. But the one who trusts in God will be like a tree with deep roots. That one's roots go all the way to the stream, so that no matter what may come his or her way, there is a stream of water to draw upon. In drought, the one who trusts in Yahweh will endure.

2. Remember that God Knows the Heart

Jeremiah explains that God knows the hearts of those who trust in the ways of culture.

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.

“Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools” (Jeremiah 17:9–11 NIV).

God sees the injustices. While many may be deceived, God knows. Trusting in God also means trusting in his knowledge of the injustices.

Furthermore, riches will desert us in the end. While our culture may prioritize material gain—at nearly any cost—God does not. And justice will come to those who exploit others in their journey to so-called success.

3. Trust in the Eternal, Not in Wealth

Jeremiah tells us that those who trust in Yahweh are putting their trust in the true "place of sanctuary ... the hope of Israel ... the spring of living water” (Jeremiah 17:12–13).

Blessings are intended for those who trust in God. Those who seek the path of deception or exploitation should experience the bareness of their decisions. But we’re still left with a problem: Why, then, does the world not work that way? Yet that could be the wrong question. Jesus would suggest that what’s needed to understand God’s blessings—and how to seek them—is a different perspective.

Blessing is Relationship with God

Blessing can come in material gain, positions of authority, and relationships, but blessing is first and foremost the deep well of relationship with God. This is at least what Jesus believed. Jesus says,

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh" (Luke 6:20–23 NIV).

Jesus' view of the blessed life should confront us. It demands that we reevaluate what blessing means. The poor are blessed because they will receive the kingdom of God. The hungry may be hungry now, but they will be filled by God. Those who weep and mourn will laugh in the end.

God’s blessing is about realizing here and now that while the world may favor the deceptive and greedy that God will make all things right in the end (see Revelation 21). This means changing our view of what it means to be blessed. It means learning to be a blessing.

How to Be a Blessing

Jesus and Jeremiah both call us to trust in God to provide the blessing. Pick any of Jesus' sermons and you find echoes of this. Jesus’ life also demonstrates this. Jesus did not look to the praise of people, wealth, or power for blessing. Jesus looks to God the Father. Jesus proved, in how he lived, that God's blessing—even when all hope seems lost—comes to those who seek righteousness. There is nothing that shows this more than the hope of resurrection on the other side of death on a cross.

This is why Jesus lovingly looks at the Rich Young Ruler and says, “One thing you lack. ... Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (Mark 10:21). The Rich Ruler, like the people Jeremiah addressed, had placed trust in the wrong place.

To seek God’s blessing, we must place trust in God—in belief that he will make all things right—and we must act as if we really believe what we say. That means self-sacrificially answering the call of justice for the poor, the hungry, and those who weep. It means having resurrection hope with a willingness to give of any and every resource that God has provided to better our world. We are blessed to bless.

Take This Step as You Seek God’s Blessing

Are you too trusting in your wealth and security? I ask you now to change that. What do you need to give up and trust God with. Consider it practically: is it wealth, a relationship, even an occupation? What are you prioritizing over God?

My challenge to you is to place your trust in Yahweh and watch him bless what he calls you to do. In this life, or in the day that he makes all things new (Revelation 21), we will see it. Blessed is the one who trusts in God.



Ready to Bless Other People?

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Nothing great ever took place without faith. When we have faith, we look beyond what is and imagine what can be. And that's what our world needs.

When we're faced with the injustices in our world, it can feel overwhelming. But let's see what happens when the tasks in front of us come face to face with faith.

Consider this: Jesus did not expect his disciples to seek a secluded life of faith apart from the world, but to be part of it. Jesus did not advocate for monkish spirituality, but a life of faith lived in the midst of culture. Jesus expected his disciples to be vehicles of change in the world. Jesus makes this point in his final prayer for his disciples:

“I do not ask that you take them [my disciples] out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth—your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:15–18 LEB).

From the beginning of our faith walk to the end of it in this life, our journey is about being in this world as actors of change.

Faith is not a journey of removing ourselves from this place, but one about bringing God’s kingdom to this place.

I firmly believe this: God wants to empower you to make change happen. He wants us to be empowered to change the course of history for the better.

When we go about alleviating poverty, we’re placing faith in what can be. We are looking at the current situation, calling it “not good enough,” and then acting to create a better situation. When Jesus calls us to help the poor (see Matthew 25:31–46), he expects a faith-based and faithful response. This response requires understanding our place in the world, which is to bring about change by the power of Jesus.

What we do with faith is as important as coming to faith, for what we do once we come to Jesus is what makes a difference in the lives of others. It’s where change for the betterment of our world occurs.

How is your faith connected to your actions? Is your faith changing the way you live each day, and the way you help others?*


Want to go deeper into this subject? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love.


*This article is based on my earlier article, "The Unfathomable Power of Faith."

 

When God calls us to something great, it is immediately followed by a faith decision. Similarly, every action towards making our world a better place is a faith decision.

For example, when we go about alleviating poverty or bringing the gospel to the unreached, we’re placing faith in what can be. We are looking at the current situation, calling it “not good enough,” and then acting to create a better situation. When Jesus calls us to help the poor, he expects a faith-based and faithful response. This response requires understanding our place in the world.

Jesus’ disciples were not expected to leave the world, but to be part of it—and to be vehicles of change in it. Jesus makes this point in his final prayer for his disciples:

“I do not ask that you take them [my disciples] out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth—your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:15–18 LEB).

From the beginning of our faith walk to the end of it in this life, our journey is about being in this world, as actors of change. Faith is not a journey that is about removing ourselves from this place, but one about bringing God’s kingdom to this place. It’s a chance to make change happen that matters—to be empowered to change the course of history for the better.

What we do with faith is as important as coming to faith, for what we do once we come to Jesus is what makes a difference in the lives of others. It’s where change for the betterment of our world occurs.

How is your faith connected to your actions? Is your faith changing the way you live each day, and the way you help others?

 

Get more free articles like this one, our daily devotional, and updates: Subscribe now. This article is part of our weekly series, “Living for Jesus.” 

 

This post originally appeared under the title "The Unfathomable Power of Faith."

“Where do you want to be in five years?” a professor asked me in the middle of the crowded dining hall.

It was March of my freshman year at a Christian university.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I answered. “Maybe Uganda? Somewhere doing missions work, though.”

While there is nothing wrong with wanting to go into full-time missions, there was a problem with my answer. The problem was that I wasn’t being honest with myself. I didn’t truly see myself in Uganda, or even want to go there. But I wanted to want it, because I thought that was what faithful Christians were supposed to do.

I thought full-time overseas missionary work was the best work any Christian could be called to. That was my first mistake. The second was that I didn’t have a clear understanding of what being a missionary really was.

Being a Missionary is to Respond Faithfully to God’s Call

Like many Christians, I had a misconception about the nature of missions work. I was 19 and convinced that full-time missions work in an impoverished nation was the best way to serve God. And I was worried that it meant I wasn’t a good enough Christian if God wasn’t calling me away to do big and scary things.

I disregarded the fact that I am an introvert who is easily exhausted by groups of people. I disregarded the fact that God hadn’t given me gifts of public speaking, teaching, or leading. I knew I could learn all those things if the mission field required it of me. God would give me what I needed to succeed in his plans.

And that’s true. But I was disregarding the gifts that God did give me; and I knew that going into full-time overseas missions wouldn’t be the best way for me to use those gifts. I knew that I didn’t really feel called to Uganda. I had for a long time felt like God was calling me to worship and serve him through writing. Of course, I could’ve written in Uganda, but I knew God was asking me to not go that far—he was asking me to stay close by and work on creating art that could make people feel and remind them what’s important in life. He wanted me to spread the gospel right here.

Every believer receives spiritual gifts to use as a member of the body of Christ. These gifts empower us to do God’s work. Not everyone is going to be gifted and called to lead. Nor will everyone be called to missions work in another country. We’re all different, and that’s a great thing about the body of Christ:

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Corinthians 12:27–30 ESV).

It is important that believers work together as different parts of the same body. If a finger suddenly decided it didn’t want to be a finger anymore, and started to act like an ear instead, everything would fall apart. As a body, we will be most successful at spreading the gospel if we each use the gifts God has given us and not attempt to be someone other than who God created us to be. 

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4–7 ESV).

Using our Gifts is Enough

The professor saw through my lie and called me out on it.

“What really gets you going? What do you love?”

“I love writing. I’ve always wanted to write.”

“Why do you see yourself in Uganda and not in, say, Paris, writing every day at a café?”

“I-I don’t know.”

“Why full-time missions and not full-time writing?”

“It just doesn’t seem like enough,” I finally confessed.

There it was. Sometimes, doing the things we’re good at doesn’t feel like enough. Even when God gives us gifts, we disregard them in favor of pursuing what we consider to be a more noble or spiritual occupation.

I believed the myth that becoming a missionary in a far-away country was the best thing anyone could do for the Kingdom of God. I know I’m not the only Christian who has made this mistake, and this has led Christians to mission fields they do not belong in. When this happens, the kingdom is missing out on the work we are actually called to do.

Missions Work is for Everybody, Everywhere

Being a missionary doesn’t always mean traveling across the world. Being a missionary means taking on the mission of spreading the gospel—which is something we are all called to do:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20 ESV).

Being a missionary isn’t always about leaving. Sometimes it means staying right where you are and using the gifts God has given you. And no calling is higher or lower than another. The whole world needs the gospel, including the community you live in now.

After pursuing a writing career, God might still call me to Uganda. I’m keeping my ears open. But no matter where I go or where he calls me next, I’m going to listen and be honest with what I’m hearing.

I encourage you to do the same. Respond to the call God has placed on your life. Be a missionary in whatever you do.

  

Get more free articles like this one, our daily devotional, and updates: Subscribe now. This long-form article is part of our weekly series, “Living for Jesus.”

 

It is easy to take peace for granted. For us in the developed world, we have freedoms and safeties that are unknown concepts to people in impoverished nations around the world.

On this International Day of Peace, let's reflect on peace as a biblical concept and how standing together for the betterment of our world is good for everyone.

We Often Take Peace for Granted

Most of us in the developed world have peace in knowing where our next meal will come from and when we can expect our paycheck. We have peace because we feel safe in our homes. We have peace because we know we have family or neighbors who are capable of helping us if something goes wrong.

Yet the peace we have is something we don’t always appreciate. And this peace is not automatically given.

Peace Is Not a Given, We Have to Work for It

Peace has to be worked for, and that’s something God reminds us of repeatedly throughout Scripture. Peace takes effort, and effort means consciously rejecting the evils of the fallen world.

“Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14 ESV).

Peace doesn’t come naturally or on it’s own; it has to be actively pursued. We know this because not all regions experience the same level of peace.

And a lack of peace can result in terrible things. We're witnessing countries where thousands of citizens flee in fear for their lives. We see instances of hundreds of people being denied access to clean water because they are considered to be an “unclean” caste. We see injustices and we have to stand against them. We have to take action.

Fair Trade Is One Way to Take Action

Many of the artisans behind the products in the Jesus' Economy Fair Trade Shop are from regions where peace isn’t assumed or guaranteed. When they wake up in the morning, they experience a very different world than you and I. Yet, despite the conditions of poverty and physical turmoil, these people get up every day and work hard to provide for themselves and their futures. They have hope and courage stronger than we can imagine.

When we support these artisans, we’re not just helping them become financially stable—we are also fighting for a future of peace for their families, communities, and countries. Fair trade is a way to support businesses that create peace. It's a way to take our simple everyday choices and advocate for the betterment of our world.

Why We Work Toward Peace

Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit described by Paul (Galatians 5:22). Being peaceful and advocating for peace is a trait indicative of a faithful life. There will be pain and poverty in the world until Jesus returns, but we should walk alongside people in their pain, and pursue peace. Doing so reveals the love of God.

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14 ESV).

We also need to recognize that true peace will never be found on earth, but is only found in God. He is bigger and more powerful than all war and poverty and suffering. He offers us a life beyond sin and death, and when we accept that, peace transcends our lives. When we rest in God’s truth, we have no reason to be afraid. Jesus reminded his disciples of this:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27 ESV).

True peace is only attainable in the Lord, and while we’re on earth, we get to share that peace with others. Jesus did not give us his peace to selfishly keep for ourselves. He gave it to us so we could go out with the same confidence and love, and do his will.

 

Help us alleviate poverty and bring peace to those who don't have any by donating today.

 

We look around us and are daunted by the poverty and suffering and darkness we see. We know it will take a lot of work to change, and we know God asks us to, but we often choose to sit back and wait.

It’s easy to be lazy and complacent and wait for other people to do the work. But these are some of the most dangerous ideals. They threaten the kingdom of God. The whole body of Christ needs to be working together if we are going to get things done. Even if the hands are equipped with a hammer and nails, they can’t get anything done if the feet don’t take them to the construction site. We simply have to rely on each other. Paul uses the body metaphor in 1 Corinthians to remind the church of the importance of unity. He says:      

“But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:24b-26 ESV)

We have our own jobs, families, and lives, and these things help us justify spiritual laziness in the church. Sometimes, we don’t even notice we are failing to act because we feel like it’s a positive thing to be investing in ourselves. Laziness can, and often does, mask itself as selfish hard work. We might be working for recognition and self-righteousness instead of in love and for Christ. But we have to acknowledge that work done for the wrong reasons has no place in the kingdom of God.

The body of Christ needs to be operating together—and it needs to be moving with the intent God desires. When believers do things for the wrong reasons, the action itself is rooted in selfishness and sin. The action may be fruitful for a time, but it will crumble because it has the wrong foundation. The church cannot stand on actions carried out without love. Paul understood that it is difficult for believers to be united for the right reasons:  

“And I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:1 ESV)

I know we’re all a little tired; it seems like less work to focus on our lives than it is to participate in a body of believers. It’s especially hard when we don’t call all the shots. Listening to God’s direction, and any leader’s direction, makes us incredibly vulnerable. When we start putting others first, we stop guarding ourselves as much as we like to.

But it is vital that we do this. We radiate God’s love when we love others. And the body of believers will not lose anything by rejecting selfishness, and choosing love instead. Paul reminds us:

“If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3 ESV)

It’s not enough to have action without love, and it’s not enough to love without action. The things we do on a daily basis should be in response to the callings God puts on our lives. We need to be giving it all we have. Paul returns to this issue in his letter to the Colossians:

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17 ESV)

Let us, as the church, check our motivations at the door and leave our selfishness at the foot of the cross. Think of what we could accomplish together, if we truly acted as one, with a heart of love and thankfulness:

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23 ESV)

Satan wants a lazy church. We fail when we work for people and not for the Lord. But if we, as different members of the same body, rely on love—if we root ourselves in the foundation of God’s love—we can bring real change and light to the world.

 

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