A few reflections and tips for the Christian on #GIVINGTUESDAY.
By Luke Cirillo
If I’m being totally honest, I was initially a bit annoyed and more than a bit skeptical about #GIVINGTUESDAY. It had the aroma of commercial interests but in reverse. It rides the coattails of the largest spending days in the history of the world. My somewhat cynical take on the season went something like this:
Thanksgiving: “Let us give thanks for all that we have.”
Black Friday: “Let us fight to the death in the aisles for more.”
Cyber Monday: “Let us spend the remainder.”
Giving Tuesday: “Oh right, giving… I forgot about giving. Here’s a quarter.”
But I was wrong. At least in part. Since its inception in 2012, Giving Tuesday has become the largest single day of giving ever in history. Last year an estimated $400 million was given online in over 150 countries, which was a 27% increase over the year prior. Just imagine the good that this did last year!
The stated goal of #GIVINGTUESDAY is to launch a global generosity movement. Seems like a good idea. But should followers of Jesus participate in or promote #GIVINGTUESDAY? I think so, with some important qualifications.
1. Keep the “Jesus” in Generosity.
Our take on generosity is uniquely unique. It’s rooted in the ultimate act of generosity — the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ — culminating in the cross. Our generosity is a witness to the person and work of Jesus. It has a specific origin and intention.
As with other opportunities our culture provides (like Christmas), to get at something much deeper than commercial interest, I believe we can, in fact, participate in a dramatic act of human generosity. We get to point to “the reason for the season,” as it were.
2. First Fruits Rather Than Leftovers.
Giving Tuesday comes at the end of the spending spree. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, then Giving Tuesday. As followers of the way of Jesus, we know that our generosity is intended to be a first fruit, not a leftover. Giving is not a turkey-sandwich-on-Friday situation. It’s a full-bird sort of act.
Using the language of the land, when the plentiful harvest comes into the storehouse, we don’t wait until we have consumed the most of it and give from the crumbs. Out of the first of the abundance of what we’ve been given, we freely give. And since we know Giving Tuesday is on its way, we can plan for it, can’t we?
My friend Alex likes to track all the savings he gets by shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and then give that on Giving Tuesday. There’s an idea. The better the savings, the more the giving (double win). But it’s also a way to carry a first fruits mindset into the spending season.
3. Learn the lifestyle.
Generosity is not the act of giving money, it is a way of life. It flows from abundant thankfulness for the overwhelming blessing of knowing Jesus Christ. It is therefore not a function of our income or of the time of year. Yet, as Christmas can remind us to be attentive to the presence of Jesus Christ, Giving Tuesday can also remind us to live in a spirit of thankfulness and generosity and encourage others to do the same.
So I say go ahead, lean into it. Lean into a moment where humankind is in general agreement that generosity is key to human flourishing. Just keep the Jesus in the generosity, remember we give out of the abundance rather than the leftovers, and that radical generosity is the kind of life we are called to live every day and not just a thing we do the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
Luke Cirillo is the Chief Growth Officer at First Image (Portland PRC).