Living in a nation that is prosperous, plentiful, and extravagant is so dangerous for my spiritual walk (compared to most of the world, this is a very prosperous nation). So dangerous that it is a daily fight to stay focused on Jesus. Living in a nation where living comfortable is the goal and the “dream” includes a lavish retirement account, and an abundance of the “finer things” in life, my perception is severely warped and I am in great danger of losing focus of how the rest of the world really lives. Living in a nation that does a great job at covering up the fact that we as believers are at war, I am often not aware of what is going on in the world around me. I am not confronted with hunger, starvation, and malnutrition on a daily basis so I am often deceived into thinking it’s not as bad as it really is. And it is really, really bad.
-Hunger is the world’s number 1 health risk, it kills more people every year than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.
-There are more hungry people in the world than the combined populations of US, Canada and the European Union
The battle against greed is a very real one for me. Even knowing these statistics, and feeling genuine love and concern for the unreached, impoverished population of the world, I still battle against the want for more material things than I need. I love that Christ wants me to enjoy his good gifts, and he supplies them to me on a daily basis. My children are not hungry, I have a home, transportation, employment and plenty of food to eat however beyond being thankful for these things, what am I doing beyond that. I war against the “American dream” every day of my life. Honestly, I don’t want the “American dream”, whatever that can be defined as. I told my husband one time that I never wanted to be rich and he looked at me kinda odd at first but I told him give me a chance to explain. Proverbs 30:8-9 explains exactly how I feel; …give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?’’or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. So there, I don’t want to be poor either, cause that ain’t fun!
(Caveat: There is nothing wrong with making a lot of money. There is nothing wrong with enjoying God’s good gifts so this post is not meant to convey anything to that affect. This is where God is moving my heart)
It is SO scary to even think of being blessed with an abundance of riches from my heavenly father and dishonor His name with how I handle it. Even though my flesh would want the houses, the cars, the vacations and all the amenities lots of money can buy, my spirit wars against it. I cannot comfortably justify spending money in this manner when thousands of children are going to sleep each night literally starving and some of them don’t wake up the next morning. Or when there are literally hundreds of countries in the world that have never heard the gospel but because they lack the means, ready and willing missionaries cannot go. Or when there are veterans who risk their lives fighting for our country only to die and leave widows and fatherless children who struggle to support themselves or who come back home and can’t find jobs, can’t support their families and live in poverty, struggling to make ends meet. Despite the countless millionaires and even billionaires in the world, these problems persist. This makes my heart really, really sad. I don’t want to be rich because I don’t want to be so drunk with comfort that I stop being sad for both the physically and spiritually poor.
Again…give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. (Prov 30:8-9)
For my daughter’s 1st birthday our family decided to request donations for food for the poor instead of gifts. I prayed about this a lot and honestly it wasn’t easy to do at first. As her birthday was approaching, I thought about how thankful I was to be able to see her grow and be able to provide not only her basic necessities but many comforts as well. Before then, we regularly donated to this organization and as I would read the newsletters and see the conditions some of these children were living in and the things they ate just to keep from starving I looked at my own children and saw how blessed they were. I was so thankful to God for His grace and mercy in my own life, I prayed that He would use me to extend that mercy to others. After I prayed this, I thought to myself I wish we were able to do more and I hope God blesses us with more to give. I went on to make preparations for Alivia’s party. I normally always make a big deal out of the 1st birthday. We plan a big party and really celebrate. As I was planning and looking at the budget for her party, I was suddenly very uncomfortable with the money I was spending. I kept thinking about the stories of the children who were hungry, malnourished, living in deplorable conditions and how they were still full of joy for the Lord. How their mothers completely had faith in God to never leave them nor forsake them despite not being able to feed their children. God suddenly opened my eyes to see that I did have “more” to give already, it just meant I had to sacrifice some of my own comforts. I honestly, did not want to scale back on my preparations and my flesh fought it for weeks. My heart condition showed me that it was all good as long as I gave out of comfort but once I had to sacrifice something to give, it wasn’t so easy. In His grace, he moved our hearts to cut back on the birthday budget so we could give more instead.
One day I was on the Food for the Poor website and I came across their Champions for the Poor program. This is where a person or group raises donations on behalf of the poor. I immediately knew I should do this for Alivia’s birthday instead of asking for gifts but I fought that for weeks too. I felt bad because I thought I was somehow cheating her out of getting gifts or cheating her out of a “proper” 1st birthday. I was already cutting the budget, why should I deprive her of gifts too? First of all, she was turning 1, if I wrapped up a cardboard box and gave it to her, she would have been just as happy. Second, I had to check my heart and motives because I was so moved by the great need in the world but when I got the chance to do something about it, all I could think about was how I didn’t want to sacrifice her “day” to do so. I had to remember God’s promise that whoever gives to the poor will not want. (Prov 28:27) I prayed for God to increase my desire to give and release any fears that stopped me from sacrificing a little more to give a little more. Because God is so gracious Alivia still ended up getting gifts, but we were also able to raise enough money to feed almost 5 kids for a year. It was completely worth it to sacrifice a couple of gifts in order to meet a need.
I pray that God makes me more and more willing to sacrifice a comfortable lifestyle here for the sake of his kingdom and build my treasure in heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy. (Matt 6:19-20) I pray He gives me a heart for the unreached and needy and to care even when the need is thousands of miles away and doesn’t affect me personally. I did tell my husband even though I don’t desire to be rich, I DO want to earn a lot of money, but I just don’t want to keep a lot of money. There is a huge difference in making a lot of money and keeping a lot of money. I may not be able to wipe out world hunger but I can use what he blesses me with to bless and help those who are needy. I pray that He makes us a faithful steward with what he blesses us with so that we can be a channel through which He spreads the gospel. I desire the faith to be able to give the last I have repeatedly and not worry about God multiplying it and giving it back so I can turn around and then give more. I have always been in awe and admiration of those who have the means to live a rich, lavish life but choose instead to be rich (above and beyond average) in good works, they are generous and ready to share. (1Tim 6:18) I don’t want people to be impressed with what I have but I want God to be pleased with what I do with what he gives me.
I don’t want to be driven by greed or live in fear that God won’t supply the things I need if I give more, but this is where my heart naturally gravitates. My prayer everyday is to lessen my desire for material things and increase my desire to give more, love more and care more about the needs of God’s beloved people. Every day I make war with materialism, lust, greed and indifference. It is an all out battle for me because living where I live, I am constantly confronted with the “American dream” and how lost or misguided I would be for not chasing it. My spirit is willing but my flesh is so weak so I ask God daily to make me willing AND able to obey his own purpose because I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Phil 2:13; Gal 2:20) Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a mans life does not consists in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
I pray every day that God blesses my family and I to see what we can go without or where we can give more with what he has blessed us with already and give us the desire to do it. I also pray that He gives me balance because I tend to be OCD about things. I pray that he allows me to enjoy His good gifts while still maintaining a heart of sacrifice.
This video rocked me to the core!