Does it Matter Where We Shop?

“The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you.” James 5:4

Ten years ago I joined a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA), and members were given the opportunity to meet the farmers growing the produce. I’ll never forget what one of them said: “Whenever you save money on food, you are probably costing someone somewhere.”

1896JamesTissotRuthGleaning

Ruth Gleaning, James Tissot

I had never considered this before, which is sad considering the biblical teachings calling for justice for the poor and oppressed. This goes beyond giving to the poor – God takes an interest in our business transactions, because they impact those providing the goods and services we purchase. How often do we consider the wages, living conditions and local economies of those growing beans for our morning coffee and cacao for our candy bars? Are they paid a fair price for their work?

Biblical faith requires us to think about such things before we buy:

  • In Amos chapter 8, God contemns Israel’s dishonest trading practices, for cheating and exploiting the poor by “skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales” (vv. 4-7).
  • God prohibits “taking advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy” (Deuteronomy 24:14), but requires employers to pay “his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the Lord and it becomes sin in you” (Deuteronomy 24:15).

The fair trade movement supports farmers and artisans who are socially and economically marginalized, by ensuring prompt and fair payment for workers and producers who may go without food, shelter, clothing or dignity, because of their poverty. Learn more about fair trade principles and become a fair trade shopper whenever possible.

Financial stewardship is not just about how we spend our money (Luke 12:13-21). We should also prayerfully consider where we spend it.

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About Corey Sharpe

Where do we get our beliefs? Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology. From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ. Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles. I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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One Response to Does it Matter Where We Shop?

  1. Pat Miles says:

    Great message Pastor. Makes me think about the local merchants, produce stands, etc. that are so available to us in this county. I hear a lot of people say they certainly do support local business rather than the BIG guys. Let’s pray that they do.

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