By Lisa Rieck

Why We All Need #GivingTuesday

Would you stand in line (on Black Friday, maybe?) to give money away?

Or would you get up at the crack of dawn on Cyber Monday not to check sales but simply because you’re so excited to give money to causes you care about that you can’t sleep any longer?

Who does this?

Welcome, #GivingTuesday! We’re glad you’re here!

We hope lots of people will do something of the sort today, in particular, on this first #GivingTuesday, a new “holiday” intended to fight against the rampant spending—mostly on ourselves—that happens after Thanksgiving. The goal is for people to intentionally give money and time to a favorite charity or non-profit. There are hundreds of great organizations that are helping meet the real, often life-threatening needs of others (many of which will be at Urbana 12), so this should be a cinch. Give to one or three or seven whose work matches places and people you're passionate about. (Of course, if your heart beats for college students and faculty, we can think of one fantastic non-profit you might be interested in giving to . . .)

I’m thrilled someone thought of #GivingTuesday. But at the same time, I’m sad that we need it. I’m sad that generosity doesn’t come naturally for most of us, and that it’s usually an afterthought (if there’s any money left). I’m sad that we’ll go into debt for things we don’t need but give grudgingly—or not at all—toward clean water in Africa.

I’m sad, in particular, that these things are often true of Christians. We’re clearly called by God to be generous, to give sacrificially, to follow in the footsteps of the Israelites (who really did stand in line to give to the work of the tabernacle), the poor widow who gave her last coins to God’s work, the early Macedonian Christians, and ultimately God, the perfect picture of generosity.

Dreaming of a Different Way

Would you imagine a different way with us? What if today sparked repentance for those who follow Jesus—a turning away from thoughtless spending based on our desires and a turning to mindful generosity that flows from the generosity of God toward us?

What if today was the first day of a whole week, month, year, lifetime, of generous, sacrificial giving, where we listen to God about our finances and spend and refrain from spending, save and give as we sense him leading?

What if we practiced random acts of generosity in time and money today and every day—at coffee shops, grocery stores, gas stations, work places, restaurants, street corners—as a reminder to ourselves that what we have is not our own, and as a way to bless others and remind them of their value and worth? And what if, as a result, the first word that came to mind when people heard the word Christian was generous?

What if we send money anonymously to a friend who needs it?

What if we send money anonymously to a rival of ours who is experiencing hardship?

What if we give so generously to the church that “giving campaigns” become a thing of the past?

What’s your dream for #GivingTuesday and, beyond today, for God’s work through our money and time? Imagine with us. Listen to God. And then give to something you love.

And give some more.

You might also be interested in other posts by Lisa:

Just in Time for Black Friday: FREE Limericks

Christmas in Russia, Anyone?

12 Reasons You Should Go to Urbana 12

Lisa Rieck is a writer and copyeditor on InterVarsity’s communications team. She worked at InterVarsity Press for over nine years as a proofreader and Bible study editor (and, as it were, resident limerick-writer). She is continually inspired by the beauty of the sky and loves good conversation with family and friends over steaming-hot beverages.

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Hi Lisa, Thank you so much for supporting #GivingTuesday. I have two favorite things about this "movement". 1) Everyone is saying it's leaderless... just kinda evolved... and is self-sustaining. I think that's a testament to the human spirit, and who God created us to be. It FEELS NATURAL to want to help others; to get excited about things like this; to pitch in with whatever you can. 2) I've seen a lot of the marketing describe #GivingTuesday as Opening Day of the giving season. It doesn't have to stop here. Bank of America & Discover might stop offering their $ match deals... the UN Foundation & 92Y might stop promo... but as Christians, we are called to a LIFE LIKE THIS. It's just opening day. Thank you for all the work you do, and for encouraging philanthropy. Cheers and God bless - I look forward to seeing you at Urbana! Joshua de Gastyne Emory InterVarsity

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