When I saw the above image I immediately shook my head yes and agreed. Then I began to think of all the people in the world who would say they agree with this sentiment. But do we believe it with our lips or with our actions? Take a look at your bank statement from last month. What did you spend your money on? Our possessions/spending will steer our hearts. I read the book 7 an experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker last year. It was an inspirational and convicting read. In the book, Jen looked at her bank statement one month and discovered just how much of her budget was going towards eating out, fancy coffee, more new clothes, entertainment, more things, etc. She came away astounded at how many places were getting her money each month. But was she living the generous life the Bible teaches about? For years, like Jen, I lived with the attitude that I couldn’t give more than I was already giving because my budget just didn’t allow for it. It was simply a cash flow problem. But then I looked at my bank statement and realized I could have more to give but it would require me to give up some things. This is where the rubber meets the road. We need to ask ourselves, will Jesus accept our excuses for neglecting the poor or those in need in the aftermath of a crisis on account of our perceived cash flow problem? You might be thinking, but I don’t really spend that much on big-ticket items. This is true for a vast majority of us. As Jen says, most of us nickel and dime ourselves to death. Think about it, the $4.00 latte we get when we meet a friend for coffee. What about meeting that coworker for lunch? Those nights when you just don’t want to cook and Sonic is 5 minutes from your front door. The new shoes that would just really make that outfit pop when you wear it to church on Sunday. It is important to remember that each of us will answer for our choices. Most of the time we can’t even account for half of what we spend. Try what Jen did. Don’t just look at your bank statements for a month go ahead and look at them for the entire last year. Where did our money go? This is one of the scariest things for me to do. It actually makes me feel kind of sick.
This post isn’t a post to beat up everyone who spends too much on stuff they don’t need. If it was then I would be a bloody pulp. It is hopefully a reminder that we are called to live a generous life. We are not called to live a life of excess. Think about this, what if the early church came to visit us would they recognize a church that looks like the Bible? Would they be able to reconcile that while 1/6 of the earth’s population claim to be Christians our world is filled with so much suffering, hungry children, orphans, destitute people with little hope, homelessness, the list goes on and on? Would they see a watered down, cheap imitation of the church Jesus taught about? The early church had this whole generous living thing down and they took care of each other. Look at Acts 4:32,”Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.”
It is uncomfortable to think of spending less of having less. But guess what? When you spend less you have more to give. I’ll admit the spending less part isn’t fun. It is hard. But we have to believe that reduced spending/consumption doesn’t mean reduced community or contentment. We have to believe that our giving can effect extraordinary change in the world. Our giving could be the answer to someone’s prayer and let’s be honest most of us have more than we need and more than we share.
The second quarter of 2016 hasn’t quite ended. We still have 2 more quarters before 2016 comes to an end and CSI has already had requests for assistance from Louisiana and Texas flood victims, Canadian wildfire victims, Cyclone victims in Fiji, and Earthquake victims in Ecuador. We also received requests for food relief from South Sudan, Uganda and Burkina Faso. We celebrate all we have accomplished during the first 5 months of the year: Assistance was sent to 1 church in Louisiana, to Fiji, 2 teams were sent to Ecuador after the earthquake, food relief was sent to South Sudan, Uganda and Burkina Faso and a medical team went to Haiti for a week. I wish I could say that we were able to answer all of the calls that we received with a yes. I wish I could say that we were able to meet the entire need presented for every request but the truth is, at times we have had to send less than was needed and in some instances those in need had to wait several weeks or even months to get the help requested due to a lack of funding and sometimes we haven’t been able to send funding at all. Presently, we are still trying to assist our brothers and sisters in Texas and Canada. We are praying that we can tell them, help is on the way. We still have more than 6 months left in 2016 and CSI knows that we will continue to receive numerous requests from people all around the world. People who don’t know where there next meal is coming from. People who don’t have a roof over their heads. People suffering from sickness because they can’t get adequate medical care. We want to be sure that we are ready to answer the calls that are sure to come. You can help us be ready. Consider how you can curb your spending and consumption. Try going a month where you really live intentionally with giving in mind and see if you have less happiness. Put the words of Jesus to the test and see if He is right. Is generous living the way to go?
If you feel like you are being called to live a more generous life then I encourage you to pray about where God would want you to give? CSI would love it if you would visit our website to learn about the many projects that could use your help. If you believe in what CSI is doing then please consider making a donation and then share our mission with your friends, family, coworkers and church. However, if CSI isn’t the right place for you to give then follow the voice of God and find that place where you are called to give. CSI truly believes that it is more blessed to give than to receive and we want you to live a blessed life. We appreciate every prayer and every gift. Your make every yes that we give possible. #generousliving #letgoofexcess #spendless #givemore