Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the tag “stewardship”

What does it mean to ‘Live Social Justice’?

We often talk about ‘living social justice,’ but what exactly does that mean for our daily lives?  Today, we unpack what it means to have a lifestyle of social justice.

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Jesus said: ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10).

Unfortunately, as a result of human acts and omissions, many people in Cape Town experience life as anything but ‘full’. As Christ followers, we seek to LIVE SOCIAL JUSTICE by noticing, being moved and making daily choices that address injustices in our city.

God intends that every person should have the protection and provision they need to live productive and purpose-filled lives. In the Bible, God is called ‘a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows’ (Psalm 68:4-5) – always seeking to protect and provide for those who are vulnerable to exploitation. He shows himself as a God who cares for the vulnerable, marginalised people in the world, and he frequently calls his people to be his agents in this care. ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: Administer justice, show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the immigrant or the poor.’ (Zechariah 7:10- 11).

When we seek to LIVE SOCIAL JUSTICE we recognize the purpose, worth and dignity of every human being as an image bearer of God. So often, this image is damaged through violence, abuse and exploitation and through unequal access to resources. We need to ask God to show us his vision for the people of Cape Town – for a city where people are able to work, children grow up in loving homes and receive quality education, there is adequate food and nutrition, shelter, protection and medical care. A place where all have their basic needs met and where people come to know God as their loving father, their protector and provider. A city where all have the possibility to live ‘life to the full’.

When we seek to LIVE SOCIAL JUSTICE we acknowledge that we are stewards – not owners – of our time, skills and resources and we make them available to God for his purposes. We strive to not be like the people of Sodom of whom it was said: ‘She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy’ (Ezekiel 16:49-50).

When we seek to LIVE SOCIAL JUSTICE we commit ourselves to a daily, moment-by-moment awareness of injustice, and an openness and sensitivity to God’s Spirit guiding our choices and actions in support of those without provision and protection.

In the words of Micah: ‘He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ Micah 6:8.

What are some ways that you live social justice?  We’d love to hear!

If you would like a gain a deeper understanding of what it means to live social justice, click here for a more in-depth look at the Biblical mandate. Also, we’d recommend you read ‘Generous Justice’ by Timothy Keller for more insight.

Is It More Blessed To Give?

What does a young Scottish minister preaching in the 19th Century have to say to us today? More than you’d think.

Photo Credit: angus clyne via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: angus clyne via Compfight cc

To start Monday off on a reflective note, here is a challenging excerpt from a sermon by preacher, pastor and poet, Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813 – 1843):

“Now, dear Christians, some of you pray night and day to be branches of the true Vine: you pray to be made all over in the image of Christ. If so, you must be like him in giving. A branch bears the same kind of fruit as the tree. If you be branches at all, you must bear the same fruit.

“An old divine says well: “What would have become of us if Christ had been as saving of his blood as some men are of their money?”

“Objection I. My money is my own. Answer. Christ might have said, My blood is my own, my life is my own; no man forceth it from me: then where should we have been?

“Objection 2. The poor are undeserving. Answer. Christ might have said the same thing. They are wicked rebels against my Father’s law: shall I lay down my life for these? I will give to the good angels. But no, he left the ninety-nine, and came after the lost. He gave his blood for the undeserving.

“Objection 3. The poor may abuse it. Answer. Christ might have said the same; yea, with far greater truth. Christ knew that thousands would trample his blood under their feet; that most would despise it; that many would make it an excuse for sinning more; yet he gave his own blood.

Oh, my dear Christians! If you would be like Christ, give much, give often, give freely, to the vile and the poor, the thankless and the undeserving. Christ is glorious and happy, and so will you be. It is not your money I want, but your happiness. Remember his own word: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Some questions:

What part of this sermon challenged you the most?

Do you agree with M’Cheyne that we should give freely to people regardless of how they might use (or abuse) our generosity?

What does Christ-like generosity look like in your own life?

Post a comment or email us! We’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂

Video: I Like Giving

I Like Giving is a campaign to inspire people to live more generously. On their website are numerous moving videos of people who took something they really liked and found a way to bless someone else with it. Watch their promo video to feel inspired:

Here are a few more cool generosity resources:

  • Rhythms is a community of people who want to change the world by taking regular actions to build lifestyle rhythms of advocacy, contentment, connection and generosity. Sign up to receive helpful suggestions of actions you can take!
  • Stewardship offers practical information and support to promote a  community of generous givers. Check out their blog here!

Do you know of any others? Please share them with us!

The Grace of Giving

How do you view giving? In today’s post, George Draper reflects on how we can truly excel in generosity when we begin to view it as the giving of more than just things.

Some months back we did a major spring clean at home and our domestic helper and her family were the key recipients of items we considered surplus to our requirements. A few days later that all went up in smoke in one of the infamous Cape Flats shack fires! Lucy’s family was safe but in minutes she lost everything she had. Actually going and seeing the devastation radically influenced our response and that of those we asked to be part of reaching out to this family and their community.

Out of that experience came a restored home, strengthened relationships, a wider sense of community and a redefinition of our needs and wants. I see now that adding personal presence and relationship to the giving of things is when the unity of grace and giving becomes evident.

Paul writing to the Corinthians (2 Cor 8:7) commends them for excelling in faith, preaching, knowledge, earnestness and love. In the context of asking them to respond to the physical needs of Jewish fellow believers he calls on them to excel also in the “grace of giving”.

It is so easy to define giving in terms of money and things and thereby confine it. It becomes simple to do and tick off as ‘done’. Paul’s challenge to ‘excel’ in the grace of giving takes it to another level, where we move beyond the giving of just things and begin to give ourselves. Our time, our gifts, and our presence. It is this which ultimately leads to the development of friendships and relationships. For me 2012 sparked growth in this area. To excel in it is a work in progress.

During 2012 my understanding of giving (and even more so, receiving) was impacted significantly by having to deal with prostate cancer. In my spirit 1 Peter 5:10 “…the God of all grace … will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” sustained me. At a practical level I received gifts of all kinds: financial (by having colleagues charge medical aid rates), skills (mostly medical), compassion, respect (from nurses when my dignity was very vulnerable) and fruit, flowers, munchies etc. But it was the comfort of the personal presence that accompanied the latter which still remains with me. It was the relationship-building that took place, which continues to be a blessing to me. Looking back now I see that ‘the God of all grace’ had been made real and tangible by people.

On reflection I realize I have experienced a rite of passage of sorts moving from giver to recipient and back to giver and also from doctor to patient and back to doctor. A rite of passage changes one and so my giving and my doctoring has to be different and will be. I guess that means I am growing in the grace of giving.

To excel in the grace of giving is what now inspires and shapes my thinking about what a post-retirement life looks like for me. I wonder what growing (excelling) in the grace of giving looks like for you?

PS If you want to understand Christian Giving further see what John Stott has to say at:

 – George is a retired medical doctor and serves on the leadership team of Common Ground Church Rondebosch AM with his wife, Bev.

Learning to live on less

Kirsten and her husband Roan with their three children (aged 3, 5 and 7)

Kirsten Wilkins shares the impact the Live Under the Line Challenge had on her family.

Our family was really struggling financially at the time of the last LUTL challenge. We had just closed down our business and the last thing we were able to spend money on was the kind of food we had been used to. We were making a lot of changes, but when the LUTL Challenge came around it helped us to kick into another gear altogether.

Our home group leader at the time prompted us to extend the 3 days to 7 days – his mantra of ‘push harder, go further’ is amazing. ‘Sure, why not?’ I thought. To achieve this, we needed to look at our whole week’s budget, meal planning and shopping behavior. It was really hard work initially, but with God’s grace we managed. A whole week under the line was a success!

For just about every week since then we have followed this programme. We have had a few wobbles along the way but we strive to live under the line everyday. After about 3 months, we increased out budget to R60/day. That is R12/person/day and through God’s provision we are able to keep it there. We have a great meal planning system which we never had before and my hubby is really happy that I now actually stick to it. What an adventure!

God’s grace has been so obvious and incredible during this time. Everything from people giving us groceries to willing and talented people showing me how to cook them all! (Sorry, Woolworths, we can’t be friends again!) This month, we’re taking the next step. At R12/day options can be a bit limited but I feel very compelled by God to look more closely at what we are eating from a nutritional point of view. Of course, you try and make the best decisions possible, but our home group leader’s encouragement to push harder is ringing afresh in my ears.

So this month our family is cutting out wheat. *Gasp* Under The Line with no cheap starch?! We’re on day 6 and doing great. The bottom line is that everything just takes a little longer and is a little more effort but it is possible. I love to see God’s encouragement through our three young children as they see and accept how important stewardship is of our finances and our bodies. By God’s grace we’ll have even more awesome stories to tell of how He is changing the way we live, think and spend all that He has blessed us with.

The Live Under the Line Challenge was life changing for our family and continues to impact us as we push through a season of major financial upheaval. I thank God for His consistent and amazingly personal, caring and individualized provision. I long to be a better steward of all that He has blessed us with. I can’t help but think of those families who live on R10/day, unsure of whether there will be R10 tomorrow.

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