When it comes to giving, often we think of it in terms of donating things like money, food, or clothing to those in need. But how often do we think of giving in terms of time? Do we think of people starving for time or as being rich with available time?
Paul writes in 2 Cor 8:14-15 of having equality in resources so that those with excess can give to those lacking, and likewise when they are lacking they can obtain from those with plenty. If we apply this to time, we can think of those in our community who are time poor or time rich. Perhaps it’s the time poor single mom attempting to raise her kids on her own while working full-time, or the new retiree who is suddenly rich with available time. Imagine if the church could help provide time equality to both of these people.
Let’s play out Paul’s teaching in this example. Let’s say the new retiree becomes aware that the single mom is time-starved so she offers to do her cleaning and grocery shopping with no obligation for repayment. The single mom suddenly has time available in the evening to play or do homework with her kids. That in turns means her kids are less starved for time with mom.
Fast forward 15 years. The single mom’s kids are now graduated from high school and are off on their own. Now the single mom has an excess of time available. Meanwhile the retiree who gave her excess time over the years now has a disabling disease that now makes her time-starved due to rehab, doctor visits, treatments. and physical limitations. So a youth from church who is on summer break with available time helps the ailing retiree while the single mom helps out at the food bank.
You may have expected me to say that the single mom started helping the ailing retiree. But that would make it appear that the single mom was repaying a debt to the retiree. The bigger point here is that we all have seasons in life. We should simply give to those in need when we are able and receive in our times of need, no strings attached.
As Paul writes in verse 14, “Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal (NLT).” When those who had excess find themselves with little, others with excess give to maintain equality. In this way one of the most valuable resources we have, time, is also given freely to those around us.
© 2013 CGThelen