"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work... You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." - 2 Corinthians 9:6-8,11
If you've read my blog for any length of time, you may have seen me mention a time or two ... or three ...or four, the journey that my husband and I are on to live off of less in order to give more. This idea that God blesses us with material possessions, not so we can horde it, but so that we can give it, is something that God has truly being digging deep into my soul - over the past few months especially. Which, I think, is wonderfully ironic because it's those same few months that my husband has been without a job.
All this to say, I loved - L.O.V.E.D - chapter six in Radical. God has been opening my eyes to the needs of the world's poor so much lately and this chapter was such an exciting encouragement to me.
Let me take a pause to say, however, that I do not have this materialism problem solved. HA! Hardly. But man, oh man has God been changing my heart in this area. I'm a work in progress, but what a work He has already begun!
So here's the deal: I have a lot of stuff. Even with my "little" 878-square-foot, two bedroom apartment, I have a lot more than the majority of the people in this world. I have a lot of stuff that I don't even need and even when I give a good chunk of it away, I still have excess. I don't worry about where my next meal is going to come from or where I'll find clothes to wear or a roof to sleep under. I am blessed... However. I must remember that God has blessed me not so that I can have more, but so that I can give more (Radical, page 127).
Recently, through God's impact in my heart, I have begun to look at my possessions in comparison to the lives the money spent could have saved. Wow does that shake some sense into me! Even when I gather up items to donate or sell, I have to shake my head at my foolishness. This stuff, when I sell it, is worth so much less than what I paid for it. It makes me realize how much money I waste on stuff I don't need or even like enough to keep for more than a few months or years before I end up selling it or giving it away. Had I not bought those things in the first place, that money could have made such a difference to someone in need - someone who will now only receive the small re-sale percentage of what that the item is now worth.
Am I (or David Platt) saying that having possessions is wrong? Not exactly. Possessions themselves are not inherently evil - but the heart (my heart) that seeks after those possessions is wicked beyond belief. Yet, a heart focused on giving rather than possessing is made from an entirely different matter. I love how Platt puts it on page 126:
“We don’t sell them [our possessions] or give them away because they are sinful… We sell them and give them away because Christ in us compels us to care for the need around us.”
There is so much need. More than we could even comprehend honestly. Example: “In the time we gather for worship on a Sunday morning, almost a thousand children elsewhere die because they have no food” (Radical, page 115).
Numbers and statistics can be so overwhelming, but that is not an excuse to do nothing. There are needs that we do see and when we turn our backs on them in order to continue on in our comfortable, stuff-filled lives, how can we say that the love of God is in us? (1 John 3:17-19)
It is so simple (I won't say "easy", because life-style change is often difficult) to start making a difference and honestly, once you start - once you open your heart up to the needs and name and faces of the poor of this world - it changes you and that change and that urgent sense of generously becomes a joyful, addiction of sorts.
So, here are some other numbers and statistics for you to consider:
Fifteen cents can provide a child in Africa with a hot, nutritious meal (click here for more information). Sometimes, I don't even bother to pick up fifteen cents when I see it lying in the parking lot.
One dollar (the same one dollar I would spend on french fries) would provide one African clean, safe drinking water for one year (www.mochaclub.org).
Forty-dollars can buy a goat for a family living in poverty and provide them with sustainable income as well as fresh milk to nourish their own families. (click here for more information) I know that one step into Kohl's or Target and I am in serious danger of easily blowing forty dollars on excess stuff-that-I-don't-need.
Last one (this just thrilled me when I found this out): David Platt mentions his church using their excess of $500,000 to partner with twenty-one impoverished churches in India to help feed starving children. Well guess what program that was? Compassion International's Child Survival Program (I have a thing for Compassion in case you didn't know). Which means that you and I and our churches can go here right now and start making the same kind of impact that Platt's church is having! Wow - so exciting!!
I could write gobs and tons and oodles more on this subject, but I'll leave you (and myself) with this powerful thought:
“I wonder at some points if I’m being irresponsible or unwise. But then I realize there is never going to come a day when I stand before God and he looks at me and says, ‘I wish you would have kept more for yourself.’” (Radical, page 123)