This morning, I was flipping around the radio dial and settled for a few minutes on a ministry program. It was a ministry I trusted. A ministry that, though I haven’t been a regular listener, I have been encouraged by from time to time.
As the program wrapped up, the tone turned serious. The ministry was in need of money. They were seriously behind budget. They didn’t want to pressure, but they wanted to be honest: the program was in jeopardy. Would I consider praying about supporting them?
The plea, quite honestly, started to go in one ear and out the other. I’ve heard lots of pleas like that lately and, certainly not to my credit, they are starting to blend together. Then, for some reason, Jane Austen popped in my head.
Now, some of you know I’m a full-on Austen fan. The manors, the kooky relatives, the inevitable marriages … joyful fun. But it’s her wit, how she can just slice through hypocrisy with a sweet-as-sugar sword, that keeps me coming back.
So, here’s the section that popped into my head. It’s from her book, Persuasion. The herione, Anne Elliot, is all good and noble and Austen-esque. Anne’s father and sister, Elizabeth, are everything vain and selfish and doltish. At the beginning of the book, there’s a problem: Dad and Sis have way overspent their means (how could they do less, after all, they have a position to uphold) and are looking for some way to get on the straight and narrow:
Elizabeth, to do her justice, had, in the first ardour of female alarm, set seriously to think what could be done, and had finally proposed these two branches of economy: to cut off some unnecessary charities, and to refrain from new furnishing the drawing-room; to which expedients she afterwards added the happy thought of their taking no present down to Anne, as had been the usual yearly custom.
Is that us, I wondered? As we struggle (or, perhaps, just worry) ourselves through a shaken economy, do we “cut off our unnecessary charities” and smile at ourselves, pleased with what good stewards we are?
I listen to radio programs. Do I support them? I read blogs everyday. Not just personal ones, but ones that the writers put serious work, research and biblical thinking into. Do I support them? If they don’t have a direct route to support them, do I buy their books or give to their churches? You’re reading this. Have you ever thought about contributing to the work of Boundless?
Or, closer to home, am I equipped by a sermon or small group at my church? Do I ever connect that with my wallet? Or do I just think it is the duty of others to provide for me? That God is using them in their ministries and that He will provide for them, without ever considering that He has instructed me to provide for them? To excel in the grace of giving?
Am I just a consumer?