spaghettipie

So the question remains . . .

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?

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8 comments

  1. Amen! You make some great points about stewardship. I think that one thing that is important to remember that we not only have poverty issues around the world, but also often in our own backyards. And something this is an easier place to start.

    I’ve challenged the young adults (20-somethings) that I work with in our church to drive through different parts of town and pray for God to show them something. We now regularly walk downtown and meet area homeless folks.

    My wife and I went out one night not long ago to meet some family for dinner downtown, and in the 20 steps from the GREAT parking space (God must have showed us favor… 😉 ) we had to walk by three different homeless people, and one of them stopped right in front of us to bend down and pick up an unfinished cigarette butt that someone threw on the ground. I think that we both realized at that moment that there is a world full of people that need Christian to reach out, and we CAN start right here at home as well as reaching around the world…

  2. I know a missionary in Africa, and when the fights in Kenya broke out, I asked her for some perspective on how we the States can help. She began her answer with “Don’t send money!”
    She said too often, we write a check and forget about it rather than entering into the suffering and joy of another.
    Sending money is a good thing, but, like you say, not to assuage our conscience, but because we see that we are all created by God with his Imago Dei.
    I know I’m never doing enough. I should be giving up more. On the other hand, it’s not just about me giving up for some stranger over there. It’s knowing that the “stranger over there” is loved by God.

  3. I love your thoughts on being more intentional. I’ve been so much more aware of our resources in general lately, and, with a child in Uganda that we sponsor, part of my heart is always thinking about her and the other children there.

  4. It always helps to see how the rest of the world lives. Reading books on issues across the globe has changed my thoughts and behaviors. But it’s a process, to be sure; there are so many things we don’t even give a second thought to.

  5. Living in the desert, the concept of being good stewards of our water is even more close to home. We are in a serious situation here. The water experts are saying that by the year 2020 there will no real source of replenish-able water here in the desert, yet STILL we are building more golf courses and more and more pools, and wasting water as if we haven’t a care in the world.

    We live in a consumeristic society that lives as if there aren’t any consequences. I can get overwhelmed and cynical, or I can do my part and hope that how I live speaks louder than what I say…

    I love your thoughts on being intentional. I will tell you that my least favorite phrase is “Practice random acts of kindness”, because practicing kindness requires being intentional. And being good stewards (and fighting against living life completely as a consumer) is all about intentional living!

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  7. spaghettipie

    All, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate each one, and think this type of discussion is what it takes to begin the journey of taking action. I’d love to hear how each of you plan to follow up on your thinking.

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