Nobody needs money.

Nobody needs money. Whether it is money in the form of currency or figures in a bank account, in itself the money is not what we need. We only need what we perceive that we could use the money for, but in every case, the need is not the money in itself.

If you really think about it, the substance of money has little value; at best it consists in pieces of metal or paper and ink, or more commonly our stored money exists in digital data on some bank’s computer.  Rather than in its substance, the power of money rests in the value that people place on it, which reduces it to an idea. The economy of a nation depends most of all on the attitude and actions of the people. The value of a nation’s currency changes every day, and in many situations throughout history this change has been drastic and sudden. Those of us living in developing nations are quite aware of this possibility.

What we really need is the actual solution to our situation, the provision for the need. Even if we are in debt and feel we need the money to pay it off, forgiveness of that debt would serve the same purpose. Whether it be food, clothing, housing, transportation, supplies, equipment or personnel, the direct provision for the situation would circumvent the need for cash.

Now, I realize that the most common way for us to take care of these needs is with money. There’s nothing wrong with that! But I think that many times we limit ourselves in our faith when we only think in terms of money.  I know that I need to open myself up to see other ways that God could meet my perceived need. Somehow I feel that if we could focus less on the money, and more on on the actual provision, it may be free us to see God’s hand move even more in our life.

I am thankful to God for the money he has provided me with to move forward in my life and in ministry. But I am even more thankful that He is not limited to that form of provision.

How has God moved in your life in terms of provision?

What changes have you seen in your attitude about money?

Garbage Pickers: Reality Check

Oh, nuts. I forgot to take the garbage out the other night. So last night I had to stick the bags of garbage in the car and drive to the dumpster by the open-air market a few blocks from my home. When I got there I saw two men and a woman going through the trash. That’s not unusual here in Guatemala; I have seen that often, people looking for cans, returnable bottles and other things, and I have heard about the people that live in the dump, surviving from what they find there, food, clothing, anything. 

But somehow last night was different. Maybe because before I could even close the car door, they had ripped my bags open, searching through diapers, rotted food, and everything else. No pride or self-consciousness, as if they didn’t even notice that I was there. And they just seemed like normal people, not bums or drunks or druggies, just probably some kids’ mom and dad, somebody’s neighbor… the thought hit me, “Nobody should have to live like this!” How can I just dump my trash (which I am prosperous enough to generate in the first place), get in my car, drive to my comfortable home so I can throw my clothes in the washing machine, and just forget about these folks.

Forget about them. I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind. I have some ideas of how I could go back and help these people from time to time. I feel some kind of responsibility… not guilt, or pity, but just the need to even things out a little bit. I know I can’t solve the problem. But I feel the Christian responsibility to share if I have abundance, with those who don’t.

I know that giving to the poor will not lift them from their poverty; yet we  still need to do it. Perhaps it is their fault – perhaps they are addicts, alcoholics, or have some other problem that keeps them in poverty. But we still need to show mercy and give. We can’t interview people to see if they are worthy of our generosity. We just need to give.

I’m still praying for God to show me how I can involve myself in activities that actually empower people to change their own situation and break the poverty cycle in their lives. The old adage of “teach a man to fish…” does apply. It is important to get people to a point to where they don’t need to depend on handouts.

But until then, I know I must simply give. In Jesus’ name, as His representative, in His love. And as I do, I will trust that somehow I am helping His Kingdom to come in someone’s life.

I know that is how I will see it come in my own.

 

What does Jesus do?

We have been challenged repeatedly to consider the question, “What would Jesus do?” before making decisions or taking action. This sounds like a good idea, and I believe has had positive results for many people in helping them be more like Jesus in their day-to-day living.

However, for me personally, I tend to feel guilty when I imagine how Jesus would handle a situation but I just can’t quite measure up in my own response. Imagining Jesus walking in my shoes, living my life, in all of His perfection and maturity, I try but… come on! After all, He is God… and I… well, you get the idea.  Maybe you have even felt the same way. Comparing myself to Him I feel selfish, lazy, inconsiderate, and definitely unspiritual. (I only feel good about some of those areas when I compare myself to certain other people, but we can always find someone else worse than us!)

I tried to change the verb tense a little, and reflect on what Jesus actually did in similar situations that we read about in the Gospels. This helps some but is a little limited as I can’t find an example to fit with everything I go through. So if past tense doesn’t work, how about future tense? What will Jesus do? Still doesn’t work, I can’t live in the future! I need something that works for me now.

I have found that the problem isn’t in the timing of the verb, but in my focus on me doing what Jesus would do. Maybe this isn’t a problem for you, but sometimes I can get too legalistic in my demands on myself. And the result of that is always self-condemnation, which doesn’t get me any closer to being Christ-like.

What has really set me free in my journey toward being like Jesus has been the realization that this kind of imagination always has Jesus separate from us, with us watching His example and striving to do the same thing. In reality, Jesus dwells in every believer by His Spirit. It gives me an immense sense of freedom to realize that He, in me, wishes to live through me.

So I have changed the question to, “What does Jesus do?” Because I know that for anything worthwhile to come out of my actions and attitudes, I must let Him do it. Each moment, I face the decision to either do it my own natural way or let Him live His life in me. When I feel like my attitudes begin to slip, I find myself crying out to Him, “Love through me! Give through me! Let Your mercy and forgiveness flow through me!”

I still have my moments – plenty of them – but I’m beginning to see more of His life coming through.

So what does Jesus do through you?

To whom God willed to make known what are the richesof the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory… (Col. 1:27)