Are you rich without knowing it? If that question leaves you thinking I must be crazy, let me assure you that there was a time when I thought the same thing. How could I possibly be rich when my checkbook was emptier than my gas tank and I still had bills to pay?
Fast forward a few years to a Sunday morning early service at our church when there were about 350 people in attendance. That morning, before he began his sermon, our pastor asked everyone who was rich to raise their hands. About five of us did, and every one of us was coming from the same place. We all knew that if a person has a roof over their heads and can feed their family three meals a day, they are rich by the world’s standards. They may not be rich by American standards, but they certainly are rich in the eyes of the 2.8 billion people who live on a couple of dollars a day.
In between those two time periods, my husband and I began to understand what living on $2 a day really means. The volunteer work we have been doing in Guatemala, coupled with our travels to other developing countries, has brought us face-to-face with an overwhelming number of families in that category.
How do they survive? Some live on corn tortillas and nothing else. Some also have beans and, if they are lucky, a little meat two or three times a year. Some parents skip meals so their children can eat. And a great many people starve to death.
I have an eye-opening question for you today and a couple of challenges.
Have you ever said, “I can’t afford it”? If you have, I challenge you to complete that sentence–at least in your mind–by stating what you can’t afford and why. You may have to dig deep for the “why” behind the “why” to get to your bottom line, but you will know when you’ve been truly honest with yourself. For example, you might say:
- “I can’t afford to make a donation to a hunger program because I want to buy a new car,” or
- “I can’t afford _____ because I need a better couch,” or
- “I can’t afford _____ because I would love to buy some new clothes,” or
- “I can’t afford _____ because I want to go out to dinner.”
Ouch! That sure puts things in a different light.
An exercise like this is not intended to shame or embarrass anyone. None of us works with pure motives all the time. It’s simply intended to help us see the choices we are making, which empowers us to choose faithfully.
No one of us can wave a magic wand and solve every problem in the world. Nor can our donations eliminate hunger for all those people who live on a couple of dollars a day. But we are not called to do all that. We are called to be faithful, to be honest with ourselves about “why,” and to live knowing that all of God’s children matter to God just as much as we do.
Pay attention to what you are saying and listen to your heart. We all want to feel our lives are worthwhile and the world is a better place because we were here. Once you begin to use even a small portion of your financial resources to help others whose needs are far greater than yours, your perspective on life will change because you are making a difference in the world.
So, if you are rich by the world’s standards, raise your hand.
And what was that you couldn’t afford?
By Judy Osgood