Spend yourself. What do you think when you hear that?
I immediately think of sports. I think of playing soccer with family, no out-of-bounds, trash cans for goals, and you can score from any side. To be brief, there is constant movement! And, by the end, you are ‘spent’ as they say. Nothing left in the tank.
So, what did you think? Was it similar?
If it was, I am going to assume it brings memories of victory and achievement coupled with reminders of being exhausted.
So, my next question is this: Do you want to be exhausted?
If you are like me, and you value comfort, the answer is probably no! But, even the thought of victory and achievement will often trump comfort in the moment of decision.
Where am I headed with this?
I want to confess that I often give money to avoid giving (spending) myself.
Practically speaking, I often want to give financially to a cause I think is important so I do not have to disrupt my comfort. To be clear, I am not implying that giving financially without also giving yourself is always a bad thing.
I realize this might seem like a strange piece coming from someone who is tasked with both leading a non-profit organization and asking for the money to fund it. Why am I not simply encouraging you to give financially?
The answer is simple: I think the Bible talks about solving poverty, and I want to shine a light on it. The answer is you and me.
Isaiah 58 reveals the heart of God in this way:
This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.
Right after this, God continues with some amazing promises, but they are tied to “spending yourself” on the marginalized:
If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins, if you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places - firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.
In context, God is correcting - urging - Israel to stop just practicing “religious practices” (even fasting) when their hearts aren’t right with His heart. They are ignoring the opportunities to jump into God’s heart by not giving themselves to those around them (who need the investment of their lives). Notice the phrase “giving yourselves.” Literally translated, this means “pour out your soul.” Sound familiar to being ‘spent’?
Now, look at the promises that follow! Those are not empty words. If you do this…you will get/do this. The promises are not just for you, but also for those you are giving yourself to and for. If that scares you as smelling like prosperity talk, reread it! Those are not my words!
My encouragement to myself, and by way of this writing, you, is to choose to spend ourselves. We can absolutely give our money as we give ourselves. And, we will no doubt find important ways to give our money. But, let’s stop giving our money to avoid giving ourselves. The truth is, we are missing out! We are missing out on interacting with other people who have remarkable things to share (James calls these people “rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom”). People who have gifts that need opportunities. People who have pain that needs attention. People who have healing for the broken parts of our own stories. People who have so much more to give to us than we could ever dream of giving.
When we spend ourselves, we truly help each other. We all get better together. And, our financial investments are so much more effective because they are connected from one person to another person. This is why Behind Every Door wants to learn the stories behind every door and love people one life at a time.
We just celebrated the birth of Jesus at Christmas, so let’s keep remembering that His life is the fulfillment of the Isaiah 58 passage. Remember that He spent himself all the way to death. And, He did it because He was connected to you.
Will Dowell | Executive Director