What Difference Do I Make?

In a recent conversation, I heard myself invoking the well-worn phrase, “Think global, act local.”

Despite the fact that I typically shy away from grammar-mocking phraseology (as in the ubiquitous “Enjoy,” asserted by a restaurant server delivering food or beverage of choice), the phrase “think global, act local” seemed to fit the conversation’s context and express what I wanted to say.

The phrase intrigues me. It offers an antidote to my near-constant complaining about politics, culture, and the state of the world in general. The phrase is morphing in my mind even as I mull it over: Think global, act local. Think collective, act individual. Think business, act owner or employee. Think family, act parent or child. Think country, act citizen. Think Church, act Christian.

What difference can I make? Well, for one thing, I can—as another chestnut instructs—“put my money where my mouth is.” I worry about the growing disparity between the haves and the have-nots—the resulting sound and fury from both, the nothingness of equalizing efforts so far.

What difference can I make, I ask myself. I ask God. He says I can quit buying every time I have a spare penny (or can borrow one) and start giving to educate, equip, and empower those individuals under the line or on the margin.

God reminds me of an Old Testament passage, an instruction to the Israelites: “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God’” (Leviticus 19:9-10). Even in a culture where one group identifies itself as “the chosen people of God,” they are divinely enjoined to give up their rights to make provision for those outside that status.

God does not refuse His people what they have worked for; He simply instructs them not to grab for themselves every single thing they can reach. Might that instruction also be for me? Might God be telling me that, rather than exerting all energies to secure what I think I deserve, I should exercise myself to use and share generously what has been entrusted to me?

I think beyond the harvest of the field. What difference could “my” time, energies, passions, character, voice, money, and things make? How will I live today so that people see in me what I say I believe? Every word, every choice, every action reveals the truth.

I can make all the difference in the world. And at harvest, with the blessing of Almighty God, it will be a difference in heaven and on earth.