Last night while driving home from youth group my youngest son turned and said to me, “Mom I really wished I lived somewhere other than America, we just have way too much stuff here, we are greedy, and I want to live where all this stuff isn’t such a big deal.” As he spoke these words familiar to my own soul after stepping back unto American soil from a two week trip to Uganda and Ethiopia. Spending two weeks immersed in extreme poverty without a breather changes one forever. Navigating through those first few days of being “home” in America was so hard. I could cry myself a river at home in my comfy house, on my comfy couch, using comfy Kleenex infused with Aloe lotion, even still the children I saw would still be living in poverty regardless of my tears. I could live in guilt and shame feeling unworthy of the extravagant life and bountiful blessing I live in, but changing nothing except living in a sense of condemnation for it all. I could sell it all without regard to God and remove myself from it all and go live in poverty adding to the number of those in need. I could just simplify. Do less. Buy less. Use less. But without doing anything to fill in the gaps where all the stuff and responsibilities once were.
My son’s words were and sometimes still are the cry of my heart. But if I study the word of God there is guidance with what to do as an American with all our wealth. comfort. stuff. Luke 12:48 “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” God stated some are given much. I fall into this category. More than likely if you are an American you probably fall into this category. If you have easy access to the Gospel …If you have the ability to attend school and offer your child an education. If you have food to eat everyday. If you are wearing clothes. You fall into this category, the ones who have been given much.
Over three billion people — more than half the world population as of 2010 — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 80% of the population lives on less than $10 per day. To put that in perspective, the average American spends about $7 a day on entertainment alone, and more than twice that on transportation. So basically if you are American you more than likely fall into this category. So what do we do? Live in Greed? Guilt? Condemnation? Ignorance? There is a reason I was born American and live here and have been allowed abundant access to the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a reason I began school when I was five and finished at 18. There was a reason I have never wondered where my daily nutritional needs were coming from. There is a reason I have never had to go naked. Yes I’ve been given much. You’ve been given much. Therefore, much is expected.
What does that mean? Are we on a steady climb to find success? It is my new realization that much will be expected has little to do with the American dream. A constant hamster wheel of keeping up with the Jones. I don’t believe that we should redistribute our wealth so its all equal. I do believe I am learning and being called out by a Holy God who has allowed much to be given; to do much with what I have been given. This can only be done through the power of His Holy Spirit working in me and His Divine Guidance in my life. It may mean giving up everything and giving to the poor to find treasure in heaven, it certainly means using my resources however meager they may seem to me to Go into all the world with His life giving message of hope that is a command, it certainly means to fulfill the mandate of James 1:27 to look after orphans and widows in their distress, it most definitely means to live out the call of Deuteronomy 6 to teach, train, and raise up our children to know the Love of a living God and a rescuing Savior. It without a doubt means to open my home, my business, my bank account up whenever the Holy Spirit calls me to give. share. and love.
An African mother living in the bush works diligently to feed her children this is her lot. I must work diligently to be responsible to use the resources (more than necessary) that I have been given well this is my lot . Lots in life are different none better or worse there are struggles with living in physical poverty there are struggles with living in wealth different lots different struggles, but still a responsibility and an opportunity if done right result, not in salvation that is by the Grace and love of Jesus alone, but in glory to the One who made us both.
So how can we as Americans show global and Godly leadership with what we have been given? There are countless ways I will name some. Sponsor a child. This is a huge privilege and blessing! And I am speaking this as a former woman who was irritated when the sponsorship commercials interrupted my evening christian concert. Sponsoring a child makes our big world a little smaller and allows you to encourage, pray and support a young life who might otherwise not have the opportunity (Compassion International and World Vision are reputable places to begin). Go. On a mission trip to a third world county. Support local resources especially where you can build connections with people. Do childcare for a single mom so she can study, grocery shop, or just clean her home without interruption. Invite the lost to church, forget about offending them. Give your tithe without question. Give more than your tithe if possible. Educate yourself on poverty and orphans. Adopt a child. Become a Foster parent. Cook a meal and give it to someone. Volunteer a local soup kitchen. Throw a party for the poor. Hang out with the outcast. Share your conversion story to everyone…have you told your children? Your co-worker? Teach your children to be givers and train them at an early age by your life on what the great commission is. and most important pray and fast for the lost, the fatherless, the widow the orphan consistently. Disciple someone who is new in the faith. Love the lost until its painful and don’t stop. Vote based on your belief in Jesus Christ. Get rid of excess. Donate or sell it and give the proceeds to reach lost people. Pray for Christians around the world who are persecuted. Memorize The Word so you always have an answer for the hope that you have. Be a good leader who does much with what you have been given.
And keep your eyes on the prize. Storing treasure in heaven and there. will.be. a. day. when you will here; ” Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:21)