Where Does It Come From, Where Does It Go?

With three girls at home, it’s been a huge blessing to have people hand down clothes. It’s also been fun for the girls.

“Where did this come from?” one will ask when we get out the next season of hand-me-downs.

They love to hear the the story behind the clothes. They want to know who wore it before them, where we were living when it was passed down, and if an older sister had worn it yet. In a way, it makes them feel connected to the giver.

We would all do better to ask that question–whether what we have is handed down or purchased new.

Where did this come from?

It’s come to the forefront of my mind again as we move into the holiday season. This time of year is saturated with sales. People are all out buying things that they will give to others. But not everyone is asking the question.

Where did this come from?

Consider this scenario–

You decide you want to show generosity to a child in need. So, you become part of an effort to collect and send gifts to children around the world. You want to help as many as possible, so you go to a department store that has the lowest prices around so you can get the biggest bang for your buck. Then, you package and send those gifts off to make a child’s day.

Sounds good to me.

Yet, I’ve been convicted to take a closer look at the process. I’m going to go ahead and ask the question my girls ask all the time.

Where did this come from?

Consider the scenario now–

You decide you want to show generosity to a child in need. So, you become part of an effort to collect and send gifts to children around the world. You want to help as many as possible, so you go to a department store that has the lowest prices around so you can get the biggest bang for your buck.

When you ask, you find out that several of the items come from another country such as Cambodia. In fact, the reason you can buy the items so cheaply is because they’ve been made in factories by children in slavery. 

Then, you package and send those gifts off to make a child’s day.

When the package is distributed, it’s distributed to a child in Cambodia – perhaps a child enslaved in the factory producing it. 

I can’t help but wonder–How is that gift received?

Concerned Enough to Ask

With every purchase I make, I’m asking the question.

“Where did this come from?”

I want to be a good steward of all that God has given to me. I want to obey God in showing generosity to others. But I must keep in mind that stewardship is so much more than saving money and getting the best deal.

Every purchase is an opportunity to make a difference. (Click to tweet)

If I buy products made locally, I know where they’re from and what I’m supporting with my purchase. If I buy products labeled “fair trade,” I’m applying a measure of accountability to the businesses I’m supporting to be sure my purchase isn’t keeping a child in slavery.

In these decisions, I’m doing everything I can to ensure that my gift I’m lovingly sending to children in poverty is a gift in every sense of the word.

But I would never have been concerned if I had never asked the question.

As a follower of Jesus, being unconcerned in not an option.

The people of Israel were blessed with abundance from God, but their response was not anything like God. In fact, Israel resembled a less favorable entity.

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49, NIV).

I’m blessed by God, and I have a great responsibility as a steward of all God has given me. In asking where things come from, I’m becoming more aware of the needs around me. I may not be able to do everything perfectly, but I won’t let that keep me from doing the right thing that’s right in front of me.

I may spend more money on my gifts, but it will truly be a gift. Each purchase is an investment – an offering. It’s a way I can steward what God has given me to share God’s love, truth and justice with the world around me.

I’m thankful for my girls illustrating for me the incredible and essential curiosity to learn the whole story.

May their curiosity be contagious.

—-

Cambodia one of many known areas of child labor. Learn more about how some are responding to this through the International Justice Mission. Also, consider making your own gifts, buying locally, or purchasing fair trade items to send along to children around the world including Cambodia through Operation Christmas Child (they’ve sent over 600,000 boxes to Cambodia since 1993).

Most importantly, start asking the question.

“Where did this come from?”

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