Are you in your own little world?
“For just one cup of coffee a day…” “Just a dollar a day…” “For less than a round of golf, you could change a child’s life…”
As I was reading my devotions today I was reminded of a song by Matthew West in which he has a line that says “I put a twenty in the plate but I never give till it hurts.” Since returning from Haiti that line has taken on new meaning for me.
I have always known that there are starving people in many parts of the world. People that are dying from diseases that have a cure. People that freeze to death while I am warm and that die from malnutrition while I complain about having to take my vitamins and eat my vegetables. But now my ‘own little world’ has been rocked. Now those starving kids have a face, they have a name, they have a soul. They aren’t just a commercial on t.v. that I forget as soon as the next play happens in whatever game I’m watching at the time. Now I can’t forget them. I don’t want to forget them.
I am left with trying to decide what my part is in all of this. As a christian, there is no getting around the fact that I am called to help. I could make the excuse that the problem is just too big, that there is no way I could solve a problem like world hunger, or people dying of disease because they don’t have the proper medications. And it is true. I can’t help everyone. However, if I allow God to use me to help one person, for that person, God has changed the world, and allowed me to be a part of it! Doesn’t that sound exciting? I think so! So then why don’t I do more of it?
The answer is hard to swallow. If I am being honest, I would have to say the only thing really holding me back from doing more than just dropping a twenty in the plate is my desire to be comfortable. Of course I can justify it other ways as well. Things like, I want to provide a nice life for my family, or it isn’t my fault I was born here and now, or “I give more sacrificially than many in my church,” or how about this one, “It would be irresponsible of me to give away too much, what about unexpected expenses?” Where do I see that one in scripture? Where does it say how much to have in a savings account, or 401k, or retirement fund?
It only took me about an hour of being in Haiti to realize in all those verses I have been reading in scripture, I am the rich man. While I would be nowhere near being considered rich as far as americans are concerned, in the larger picture, the global church, I am considered wealthy (monetarily speaking). As I rode through Haiti in the back of a pickup truck, I looked around, and I saw need everywhere. I was reminded of the verses in Matthew 25 that talk about “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
No longer does dropping twenty bucks in the benevolence offering at the end of the service and then walking out the door to spend thirty-five dollars on lunch feel acceptable. That is not sacrificial giving. As I attended the Haitian church service Sunday morning I saw sacrificial giving. I saw people giving that had next to nothing. Granted, I don’t know all of their stories, but I am quite certain they are worse off, financially, than I am. I am certain they could give reason after reason to justify why they aren’t giving money to the church, and perhaps some of them do. But some of them don’t. Some of them are the woman in scripture who gives her last two coins and simply trusts God for the future. Seeing that in real life was humbling. It was challenging. It was life-changing.
I have certainly been living in my own little world, and now I am being challenged to re-evaluate the way I have been walking through life. How will I give an answer for the way I have handled God’s money that He has given me to use? How have I used the time, the talents and the gifts He has given me? It hurts me to say, but to this point in life, I haven’t been doing so hot. Sure, I have my moments, but over all, ugh.
I am finally wrapping my head around the fact that I am the rich man. And I am rich in more ways than just financially. I am rich in support, from friends and family. I am rich in resources to study and understand the scripture. I am rich in creature comforts. I am rich in love from a committed and supportive wife. I could keep going.
So now it is time to give. Not just a little, but sacrificially. It is time to give without worrying about being taken advantage of. It is time to give and fully trust God that He will use what I am giving to bring Himself glory. As I would tell my boys, “No more excuses, just results.”
As a global church, I am seeing more and more how we can help each other. Financially, the churches in America have been blessed. We park millions of dollars worth of cars in parking lots of million dollar facilities as we gather to worship. We have been blessed financially, but what are we doing with it? There are brothers and sisters in Christ starving in other parts of the world. There are families without money for their very next meal, families without clothing and shelter. While we scramble to find one of our dozen or so bibles to take to church on Sunday, in many places there is not access to the word of God, or access to education to learn to read the word for themselves. We can help them. But guess what…they can help us too! They can help us in many ways, one of which is to show us what it looks like to fully rely on God for everything, from their next breathe, to their next meal, to everything. While we are rich financially, they are rich in faith. While we give out of our abundance, they understand sacrificial giving. The bottom line, if we all get out of our own little worlds and work together as the global church, God will be glorified, and we will all be better off for it!
Feel free to listen to the song by Matthew West that I referred to above. Use it as a prayer that God would keep you focused on the things that matter most.
Scripture that encouraged and challenged me…There is much more, but this was part of it…