Black Friday Week!
Ahh, the time of year when I’m tempted to upgrade my lifestyle—Black Friday week. I wouldn’t mind upgrading from my old out of date box TV, stock up on some new movies, get some new clothes, finally own a computer, maybe reconnect to my gaming days with an Xbox 1 or add to my fishing/camping arsenal. Who knows what whimsical purchase I may feel led to make. How could I pass on this season of deals?
I wonder if I held the hand of an un-sheltered hungry child from my community while walking down the shopping aisles filled with crazy determined customers, how many things would be more important for me to own than providing his/her next meal and other basic needs? Problems of poverty have been wrenching on my heart recently.We are practically a single income home (with Tammy working very pt). I don’t make very much money in the world’s eyes—you don’t go to school to be a youth pastor to make bank. In the government’s eyes, we are most often not even considered middle class and qualify for assistance for many things if we want it. I’ve got a kid and another one on the way. I don’t have internet. I don’t have cable TV. We have college debts, coming from middle class homes that couldn’t pay for our college. We’ve cut back on a lot of expenses now that Tammy stays home. Isn’t that enough sacrifice for a guy with a 4 yr degree and spouse with an associate degree and 4.0—who could do whatever she wants?… It’s shameful, that I feel this way sometimes. It would be shameful to actually think we are poor.
Money is strange. It often assigns value to our lives. I understand it is most often earned, but as a Christian, can I live in luxury while others suffer all around me? And even if I stop accumulating wealth (stuff), I already have so much. How many meals could I have provided for a child instead of getting that used boat a few years ago? Two years ago I spent $300 on Christmas lights for the parsonage. I don’t think that was quite what God meant when He commissioned us to be light in this world. I think I’ve been missing it. It’s interesting that we think of our generosity in terms of what we give instead of what we’ve been given and what we have. It brings to mind the widowed poor lady who gave her last two coins in Mark 12:42. Jesus pointed out that she gave more than the large sums that the rich gave. Our giving is not about how much we give, it’s about how much we choose not to hoard for ourselves. The greatest givers in the world’s eyes are rarely the same people God would consider the greatest givers.
I wonder how great of an impact the global church would have if we chose not to live in luxury, to reach the world around us? In light of our call, is having multiple cars, the newest electronics, cable TV, large homes, ATVs, boats, trendy apparel etc… luxuries or needs? I mean, we are called to give other’s needs precedence over our own, but we can’t even give their needs precedence over our hobbies! I’m not just pointing fingers at everyone else either—this is something that is settling heavy on my heart, for me. Why does it feel like I’d be a martyr to live how Christ loved living?
Some closing food for thought:
“Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.” –Proverbs 28:27
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.” –Proverbs 19:17
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” –James 1:27
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” –Matthew 25:34-45