The Theology of Enough
We were struck by a section of Enough is Enough: A Biblical Call for Moderation in a Consumer-Oriented Society that explores the relationship between the experience of personal abundance and sharing your plenty with others. In it, author John Taylor seeks to define a "theology of enough." He quotes a passage from the Old Testament that appears to offer a strikingly incongruous message:
"When the journey [to Jerusalem] is too great for you to be able to carry your tithe [of food], then you may exchange it for silver. You shall tie up the silver and take it with you to the place which the Lord your God will choose. There you shall spend it as you will, on cattle or sheep, wine or strong drink, or whatever you desire; you shall consume it there with rejoicing, both you and your family...(Deuteronomy 14.24-27).
What? Is the Bible encouraging us to take the tithe that was suppose to feed the poor and give ourselves a spending spree (albeit as a thank-you to God)? Bizarre! But Taylor believes the message of this passage is that generosity to those who are less fortunate goes hand in hand with generosity to oneself. "Such spontaneous, lavish, celebration is the absolute opposite of the greedy spirit of grasping, hoarding, exploiting and turning everything back into greater profits."
Whether or not you agree with Taylor's Biblical interpretation, we found the point provocative. We agree that learning to take good care of ourselves is an essential, supportive factor in being able to say "enough is enough." But how discriminating are we, in a culture that extols spending money as the way to be good to ourselves? Do we carefully notice when extravagances feel deeply nurturing, and when wasteful? And is there really a direct relationship between what we spend on ourselves and what we give to others, or are they independent choices? What do you think? .
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