Many years ago, Jack and Liam helped select the first child we would sponsor through World Vision, a sobering feat for sure. Overwhelmed by the number of extremely poor children in need of help, we filtered the results to only boys with the same birthday as Jack and Liam. One little boy fit the criteria and while having not much else in common, all three boys share the same birth day and year.
Despite the photos being on our fridge for many months, they suddenly caught my attention. Stopped in my tracks, it was as if I was seeing them – a picture of our World Vision sponsored child and pictures of our twin boys – for the very first time.
With the kind of horrid revelation that shakes your entire foundation and leaves you not knowing up from down, it dawned on me that the money we spent on league fees, cleats, and equipment for one season of flag football cost us more than the entire year of contributions for World Vision to provide schooling, healthcare, and community support for this little boy in Africa.
Lord, help us! We are the fat kings of the world and yet it’s not enough. We still demand more. More cheap goods from overseas, more oil, more comfort, more bottled water, more clothing, more food, more luxury, more convenience, more, more, more. We throw away in one day what most children will have to eat for a week. We live in over-fed obese bodies while many around the world, and here at home, are starving. We drop $100 on workout gear and don’t bat an eye. We spend on one vacation more than most families live off of for an entire year. We pay $75 to go out for dinner and justify it because we are just so “busy”. We buy a $2,000 laptop but give the homeless guy 50 cents — or nothing at all because he’s just going to spend it on drugs and alcohol, don’t you know.
As people risk their lives to flee worn-torn countries, we pat ourselves on the back for having a sponsored kid on our fridge and for sending a bit of money to the Red Cross. We tell ourselves that we’ve done our part yet it cost us nothing. We abdicate our responsibility because we believe “they” somehow earned their misfortune and likewise, “we” earned our entitlement. So we secretly blame them for being poor, for being Syrian, for being black, for being substance-abusers, or whatever else it is that helps us sleep at night on our plush, king-sized, Tempur-Pedic mattress. So paralyzed with selfish fear, we hold on to all that we have, large or small, and we sacrifice next to nothing.
I’m lecturing you but I’m also lecturing myself. I am guilty, too. The contrast of these photos quickly reminded me of how easy it is to live in luxury while others are struggling to find food for their family or safety for their children. It called our family’s charitable giving strategy into question because despite the fact that we give away far more than twice as much of our gross income than the average American¹, it still hasn’t cost anything. It hasn’t hurt. I can still afford the vacations and the Lululemon, and the Michelin Star restaurant. So the question then remains: have I really given enough? No. A thousand times no.
God, give us eyes to see and ears to hear! Give us open hands and open hearts! We need more of you and less of ourselves.
“Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.” ~ Jesus