August 20, 2020
How would you feel when someone tells you to “check your privilege?”
When I heard this, I was offended at first and became defensive.
“That’s not me.”
“I know my privileges well. Thank you!”
“Is it my fault that I’m living comfortably compared to others?”
I took a pause and gave it some thought, then realized that there is some helpful truth behind this statement.
But what does it mean to “check your privilege?”
There are many possible contexts to this statement, but it basically means to acknowledge and reflect on ways your social status has given you an advantage in life that you did not earn or work hard for.
A roof over your head.
Readily available midnight snacks for late-night Netflix.
A stable and reliable internet connection.
A gadget you can use for online classes.
If taken with a positive perspective, “checking our privilege” is not an insult to the more privileged people or a rock thrown by the less fortunate; rather, it could be an invitation to check our current reality.
But how do we make something good out of this statement?
Here are three mindsets that can empower us to use our privileges for a greater purpose.
Comfort is a privilege, but it’s not your fault that you were born into a rich family.
It’s not a crime to be well-off in life, especially if your status is a result of hard work and perseverance. Being rich doesn’t necessarily mean having it easy in life or not having any real struggles at all.
If you’re rich, it’s not your fault that you’re living a relatively more comfortable life during this pandemic. Rather, it is a blessing from God and an evidence of His grace, which you must be thankful for.
But we begin to be in the wrong when we let our blessings and privileges result in greed, pride, or apathy toward other people.
Privileges don’t just come in material or financial form. The rich enjoy privileges that the poor don’t. The poor enjoy certain things in life that the rich might not be enjoying or experiencing.
Regardless of your social status in life, when we lack appreciation for the privileges that we experience, we tend to take our privileges for granted.
In one of our conversations, a student told me this: “When we lose sight of what is important or what has been given to us, we resort to greed and other selfish desires.”
But when we recognize the privileges that we enjoy, we begin to cultivate in ourselves the kind of joy that leads us into thanking God and setting aside our selfish desires.
Compassion comes from an old Latin word that means “to suffer with.”
Having compassion for others means having the willingness to feel or experience their suffering, which results in action.
Could it be possible that the reason why we have privileges is not primarily for our enjoyment but for the betterment of others?
When God called Abraham to a foreign land, He gave His reason for blessing Abraham.
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Through this verse we are reminded that one of God’s purposes for blessing His people is to be a blessing to others.
A student put it this way: “If you understand that you have things that you didn’t earn or didn’t deserve, it empowers you to do things for others.”
When we take this to hearts, then we could have one of the greatest privileges in this life: to be of service to others regardless of our status in life.
18They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
1 Timothy 6:18,19
The rich have a God-given responsibility to be generous and to be ready to share to others. As they do so, God gives them a promise that they are storing up treasure . . . as a good foundation for the future. Jesus affirms this promise:
19“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
Those who have more are privileged to be used by God to bless others and to use their earthly possessions for eternal treasures.
Having less in life shouldn’t mean being disqualified to be a blessing to others. No matter your status in life, there will always be those who are in a more challenging situation than you.
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
2 Corinthians 8:1–5
God can use the less fortunate to bless other people just as He has used the rich people, because both of them are recipients of God’s abundant grace.
However, in this context, we can see that only those who are in extreme poverty can experience the privilege of having the abundance of joy through the severe test of affliction.
This is possible because despite the difficult condition, they gave themselves first to the Lord, then to His people.
Because God has called all of us to serve others, we can all use their privileges to give and support those in need.
1.Give. Find a way to give anything that can be of help to someone. Go through your list of friends on Facebook. Pray for God to drop names of friends, organizations, or public schools that you could help through giving.
It could be a spare gadget that can be used for online classes or reams of bond paper for students’ modules. We can think of ways that our privilege can serve others through giving.
2. Support. For sure there are people within your sphere of influence who have started a business during the quarantine period. Put them on a list and aim to buy from them as a form of support. Share their pages and help them promote their products through your social media account.
A small purchase can be a big help. Our privileges can serve as great support to the people who are in need.
Jesus had the greatest privilege before coming down to earth: He is the Messiah, King of kings, Lord of lords, and the only Son of God.
But instead of keeping His privileges all to Himself, He laid down these privileges to love people and to serve them.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Instead of being hindered by His divine privileges, He set it aside and did the greatest act of service: He gave His life for us.
As we check our privilege, may we become people who are willing to do great acts of service for the Lord and for the people He created.