It’s that time of the year again! Don’t panic, I’m not talking about Christmas—although that will sneak up on us now we’re in the second half of the year—but it’s The Salvation Army’s 2019 Self Denial Appeal. And just like Christmas, it’s all about giving.
This year’s theme is ‘Be the Change’, which is a deeply personal call to action. And the action we are called to participate in is giving to our Army’s global mission in Ecuador, South Africa, India and Malaysia. So, yes, I’m talking about parting with our cold hard cash! But here’s the cool part—while our giving will certainly be life-changing for the recipients, giving also changes us.
When we contemplate giving, we are forced to take a good long hard look at ourselves and consider our desires, motives, and what’s truly important to us.
Have you ever tried to track your spouse’s movements via internet banking? Over the years my husband certainly has! There may have been the odd occasion when I’ve arrived home and been asked where I’ve been, only to reply curtly, ‘Just to Countdown and Kmart’.
But Mat’s a smart guy and not one for having the wool easily pulled over his eyes—‘Oh, really Jules? Are you sure you didn’t make a few other stops along the way, like at Starbucks and Everlast Nails? Or was that someone else using our joint account for coffee and a mani-pedi?!’
There’s no hiding from the truth about how I spend my money—the facts are right there in my transaction history!
We may delude ourselves and say that something isn’t that important to us, but the reality is that our spending is an excellent barometer for measuring what we really love the most.
And if I’m honest, even as a Christ follower who is called to love God and love others, sometimes my first love isn’t God, and it isn’t others. I confess there are frequently times when my first love is myself—my needs and my wants. And while some of those are legitimate in terms of my financial responsibilities to my family, and necessary for self-care—ok so maybe a mani-pedi isn’t essential—nonetheless, the invitation to give money away provides a clean lens through which to see areas of our lives that may have become out of kilter with our values and beliefs.
Giving is a loving invitation from God to reflect and acknowledge that there are things to which we cling or depend upon—things we have allowed to sit on the throne of our lives and crowd out the Lordship of Christ. Things we could in fact deny ourselves, so that others in real need may benefit through our giving.
So, as we take some time in the coming weeks to consider the needs of those around the world presented to us during this year’s Self Denial Appeal, the focus on self has a chance to shift a little. There’s space for the grace of God and his goodness to come alive again in our hearts and minds.
And it’s this shift in focus—this change within us—that is at the heart of the Self Denial Appeal. Together we can ‘Be the Change’ as we consider what we can deny ourselves, so others in real need don’t have to.
by Jules Badger (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 10 August 2019 p3. You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.