Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Guilt of Success

The church still doesn't know how to handle successful (by the American standard) people.  If we are successful and dare enjoy anything minutely frivolous we are greedy and self-centered.  If we lack success we are lazy. 

True Christianity isn't one size fits all.  Not everyone will have the same income, lifestyle, family, opportunities, or hardships.  Each of us will walk a different path and somehow the church needs to embrace everyone independently.  We try to sit as the Judge and Jury for how everyone else lives their lives and spends their money.  In the name of accountability and concern we seek to make sure that everyone else is living their lives the way we think they should and that's just not right!

I struggle with reconciling being successful, living in America, and the extreme poverty and needs that I have seen in Guatemala.  Without the help of anyone else I feel guilt about the size of our house, even though it has issues and happened to be what was on the land we wanted, or even ordering pizza because I was busy making 10 batches of jelly and didn't want to stop to make supper.  What would that $20 do for someone else if we hadn't just consumed it?  Why do we have 2 empty bedrooms?  It is a struggle to know what is frivolous when you know families that struggle to eat one meal a day.  On the other hand, my purchase is providing someone else an income and opportunity as well.

There is an undercurrent in the church that you can't live in a home that's too nice, drive a car that's too big, fast, or expensive, or vacation somewhere too exotic.  "Good Christians" are to deprive themselves all extravagances and give everything beyond the necessities to others.  The problem is that I truly believe that God does give us some gifts to enjoy.  He wants us to be joyful and enjoy this world that he created.  What we enjoy will be very personal.  I would love to have a fast car one day because I just love to drive fast and the Suburban can barely get out of its own way.  Some people love to go camping.  (I don't understand it but they really like it.)  What if you like to stay at home and enjoy your patio and pool?  (Please invite us over!)  If we deny ourselves joy just to present ourselves as sacrificial are we really being ingrateful for our gifts?  A gift must be received and should be done with a grateful heart. 

Luke 12:48 "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

My point is that I truly believe we are way too hard on what other people have and spend.  We need to be more focused on ourselves!  What are we doing with the resources that are entrusted to us?  Are we answering the call that God has for our lives?  When we truly feel God calling to us address a need, are we willing to adjust our own spending?  Would we sacrifice for others?  I am responsible for my family budget and doing the best with those resources.  We will answer for how we have used our time, money, and talents to meet the needs of the world and further the kingdom.  In the end I want to hear...

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!" Matthew 25:21

Success or even wealth aren't the sins that we must avoid.  We must avoid the love of money, pride, self-centeredness, jealousy, and all the other distractions that keep us from our full potential.  I need to keep myself in check.  It doesn't matter what someone else drives what "toys" they buy.  The real question is Where is their Heart?  Where is their PASSION and how can I support that?

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