In the heat of the day, the sprinklers were running at a local business. Obviously they had been running for a while, since the ground was becoming muddy and water was beginning to pool in the street. I had just returned from six weeks in Africa, where I saw villagers drawing their water from dirty, cloudy wells that even had dead frogs floating in them. I looked at the neglected excess of water running along the sidewalk and felt sick with conviction.
What do we do with all of this? What do we do with the fact that we have been given so much and so much is expected of us? (Some of you reading this may not feel like you’ve been given much, but in the scheme of the world we all in the US indeed have.)
As the video suggests, there are no easy answers. Certainly we can join worthy causes like One or Compassion, but even with those wonderful organizations I think we must be careful. Sometimes being a part of those organizations is more about making ourselves feel better than really engaging with what the Scripture commands us to do in caring for those in need. Writing a check can become just like paying another bill. Of course the cause is worthy, and yes, it probably does help, but is that the kind of charity God designed?
Regardless of how we each end up answering the question, we first need to struggle with the question. And before we do anything (and yes, eventually we must do something!) a couple things need to change inside.
First, we need to truly understand that we are stewards of what God has given us. We’re not the owners; we didn’t earn what we have (hard concept for us Americans). It’s not ours to keep or give away.
Second, we need to be more intentional. When we realize our role as stewards, that helps, but we can see even in the parable of the talents that being intentional does not always come easily. Doing fun activities, having nice things, eating great food – those aren’t inherently bad, and God does enjoy blessing his children abundantly. The point is not to heap guilt on our heads. But are we intentionally making decisions about how we use the resources we have? What do we see as the purpose of those resources? Just to make us happy? Just to take care of ourselves?
Finances are tighter for my husband and I than they ever have been. And yet, we were discussing the other day that if we paid attention to our resources a little more closely, we could be much more intentional in our decisions. We could free up frivolous spending in areas we don’t even realize are excessive (incidental runs to the grocery store, anyone?) and put that toward other causes that are important.
If we can change our perspective on these things, I think it will become apparent what we need to do as a result. And that will look different for each of us.
So what do you think? What do we do with this?