Friday, May 30, 2008

Living simply to give more

A major theme of my past year has been dealing with issues of money and possessions. As I have been exposing myself to so many needs around the world it becomes apparent that the way I live is far superior to MOST of the world. Back in the fall my husband found a website that allows you to put in your annual income and see where you stand compared to the rest of the world. Guess what? If you make more than 50,000 you are in the top 1% of the weathliest people in the world. That really got me thinking last fall. It made me think of the verse from Matthew 19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." I have never defined myself as rich. Movie stars are rich, millionaires are rich. Guess what? I AM RICH! So where does that leave me in connection to Matthew 19:23? Thankfully the next verse says 25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" 26Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." I am still grappling with this whole issue of money and how it all looks as an American Christian. Sometimes I am concerned that we are VERY far from where God wants us to be with this.
As a family, I would consider us to be generous and faithful givers, and people who live within our means. We also do not have money worries and stress, and although we are by no means extravagant spenders, we still spend money on things that we don't really NEED and can easily justify or rationalize these purchases. In the past few months we have made changes to really evaluate what we spend and why and are continuing to find ways to spend less. The key is though - we are not doing this to be FRUGAL! We are doing this so that we can free up more resources to go to KINGDOM work! (and to be kinder to the environment) When I compare the cost of buying a new outfit to what that money could do to provide food, or shelter, or live-saving medicine it is starting to become a no-brainer.
This past week in our small group we discussed this passage from Mark 12 - 41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins,[j]worth only a fraction of a penny.[k] 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."
This really challenged me because in a lot of ways we are still giving "out of our wealth" - she gave all she had to live on - really ALL she had to live on? Do you really want me to give that way Lord? As I laid in bed that night thinking this over again - God reminded me that it is about so much more than MONEY - she put in everything - God doesn't just want all of my money - he wants ALL of ME! To give of myself beyond my comforts or beyond my need to be right or first.
I have come a long way in the past year, yet I still have so far to go!
I came across the blog of Shaun Groves recently and he has had 2 great posts about how he and his family are moving toward simple living!

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