Kingdom economics: Work and trade as gift-giving

Work and trade as gift-giving

     This week’s reading, “Kingdom Economics: Work and Trade as Gift-Giving,” by Joseph Sunde addressed the issue of viewing work and trade as gift-giving. Sunde asserted that although consumer-centered culture makes people view economic action from a profit-making and self-benefit, there is also a different perspective we tend to ignore, but which actually characterizes our economic interactions in the society. Sunde asserts that in our economic actions, we are not only receiving but also giving: we are creators, producers, contributors, as well as gift-givers. Unlike the pure Western definition of ‘gift’ as a non-reciprocal act, Sunde notes that Christianity perceives “gift” as a mutual action where there are “strings attached,” although not necessarily proportionate. For example, God gives us gifts not to keep to ourselves but to instead serve His purpose.

Global Trade Transformed by Kingdom Economics

     The “Parable of the Talents” in Luke 19:11-27 and in Matthew 25:14-3 reiterates the reciprocal nature of a gift. In the parable, the master was disappointed with the servants who had not made use of the talents they had. The latter is equivalent to people who fail to use their God-given gifts (talent) to add value to the society or their life. This week’s reading taught us that trade and work are not merely meant to be a profit making venture, but they should also be used to promote the overall prosperity of a person’s environment and local community.

     This reading has motivated me to reflect on my vocational life as well as my future vocational plans and to think of how I can structure my future career to better serve the society. From what I have learned, the purpose of working is not solely to make money. One also needs to ensure that they contribute to the advancement and development of their community through a career or talent. For example, while law enforcers earn money for their services, they also need to ensure that they improve the society through eliminating crime and helping offenders to reform.

Fostering Community through Kingdom Economics Practices

     I, henceforth, seek to view my career or work as a gift from God. And, unlike the servant in the “Parable of the Talents,” I will not use my God-given gifts to simply benefit myself or continue to be afraid to shine in this world. Instead, I will maximize the full potential of my gift to benefit the world around me. Sometimes I may have to forego the immediate financial gains that I can receive from my career. As Sunde correctly puts it, what really matters in the Kingdom economics is grace and love. It is, therefore, important to find how demonstrate grace and love through our work and trade as Christians.

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Sunde, Joseph. Kingdom Economics: Work and Trade as Gift-Giving. Acton Institute, April 22, 2021.

https://blog.acton.org/archives/120307-kingdom-economics-work-and-trade-as-gift-giving.html

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    Joseph Sunde posits that work and trade should be regarded as movements of giving and not selfishly as ventures for profit. He claim that economy is also about giving and not just receiving; therefore, it is individuals as creators, producers, contributors, and givers. This dimension which opposes a consumer-centered culture fits into Christian beliefs on the idea of reciprocity

    Sunde claims that in Western culture, a ‘gift’ is interpreted as a non – reciprocal act of action while Christianity interprets it as a reciprocal act with strings attached which means that there will be some degree of return, but it does not have to be proportionate. This mirrors a more relational theory about giving.

    One of the superb illustrations of the essence of “Utilization of one’s talents” is represented in the “Parable of the Talents”. It implies that not making use of God-given talents to benefit society or our own personal lives is perverse, in the joke of the master with the servants who would not put their talents to use. This parable brings out the need to give something good to the society using our abilities.

    Through the text, one is to view their career or vovational work as a gift from God which is not to be used for individual consumption but for the benefit of the society. It promotes employing one’s power and life to serve the development and growth of the community by incorporating grace and love which are the backbones of Kingdom economics.

    Joseph Sunde depicts the ultimate goal of working and trading, from a Christian perspective, as proving grace and love in our economic endeavors. He also stresses that making money is not the only thing essential it is also very important to make sure that your activities are for the welfare of the community representing the ethos of grace and love in economic activities in the community.

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