In the past, I have argued that at the heart of God's economy is the concept of giving. This blog entry focuses on this giving aspect but now I talk more in terms of a shalom economy. A shalom economy is focused on wholeness or fullness not for the individual but for all of the cosmos. Shalom doesn't do away with the giving emphasis. Rather it emphasises a focus on working for the wholeness or fullness of all of creation.
My initial thoughts focused on giving of our surplus, but now I am seeing it more as "I see you have a need that I can meet, let me help you." In God's economy, we are are to look toward the interests of others believing that God will provide for our own needs.
There is a huge change of focus here. We have been accustomed to ensuring our own security first before reaching out to others. From that perspective, we may talk of freely giving of our surplus while only seeking what is needed for our own lives.
As we look at God's economy, we need to be putting people ahead of money and status. We are seeking their welfare and not monetary gain.
In God's economy, we are not standalone units. We are interdependent units. We rely on our needs being satisfied by the skills and resources of others while we give of our skills and resources to satisfy others' needs. We should be asking "what is it that we have to give?" and not "what is it that we need?"
My thoughts on economics have focused on reducing cost structures. I see this still as central but I also see that we should be willing to pay a fair price. Abram insisted on paying for Sarah's burial cave. He would not see himself indebted to another. Yet this can be a hindrance to the gift economy.
A gift economy doesn't operate by demanding a gift. A gift is something that is freely given. When I walk down the street, am I prepared to give to a person in need? Is my heart open to recognise the needs of others? Ours is a demand focused environment. We put things there to satisfy the expectations of others or to receive an expected reward.
That isn't a gift economy. A gift economy gives to others simply because I am able to do so. I receive what God wants to give in return.