Saturday, June 22, 2013

Who Are You Serving?

I've continued to follow the posts from Compassion International's Nicaragua blogging trip.

Traci at Beneath My Heart, shares:

What’s holding you back from sponsoring a child? If you are like me, you are thinking you can’t afford it.

I need to confess something to you. {big gulp}

When I first signed up to go on this Compassion trip, I was told that if I wanted to sponsor a child from Nicaragua, they could arrange it so I could meet him while I was there.

Our family already sponsors a child from Equador for $38 dollars a month, and I knew we didn’t have the money to sponsor another child.

We have a stack of bills we haven’t paid yet for the surgery I had in March. Jonathan and Luke both need braces for their teeth. Cy has just gone into business for himself, and we are tighter than we have been in a very long time.

We just couldn’t afford to sponsor another child.

But you know what we could afford?

We could afford $20 to take the boys to McDonald’s for lunch. And another $20 to take them to the pool. We were also able to afford about $60 for me to get a manicure and pedicure.

And oh yeah! We were able to afford a $60 meal at our favorite restaurant in town just last week.
We also could afford to get our car washed, enjoy DISH network on tv, and support my caffeine addiction to cokes from McDonald’s EVERY SINGLE DAY!

But I knew we just couldn’t afford to sponsor a child in Nicaragua…who sleeps on cardboard boxes for a bed, or whose parents work at a city dump to earn about a dollar a day, or who eats only one meal a day, or only has one pair of shoes.
I want to talk about this a bit because I think it's on everyone's mind anyway.

How much does God want us to sacrifice? How generous are we supposed to be? Should we never eat out? Should we never replace worn furniture? Should we never have our hair colored or our nails done?

Before we discuss splurges, let's talk about faith.

I remember reading the comment section on a grocery-bill savings post recently, where a women shared that her husband makes $41,000 a year and they struggle significantly to make ends meet, though they always meet their tithe. She was asking for help because she felt that God, in his faithfulness, wouldn't want their lives to be so hard. They must be making mistakes, surely, for it to remain so difficult.

First of all, paying your tithe doesn't mean you won't struggle financially. It's not insurance, it's obedience. God will provide for you if you seek his righteousness, which includes being obedient, but he never promises to provide before a need arises. He provides in a way that brings him the most glory. That's His privilege. He gets to do it His way, not ours.

For example, we drove a very old van with well over 200,000 miles on it. We hadn't a clue how we would purchase a newer used van. We had no significant cash and there was no way we could finance a vehicle (nor did we want any debt).

One night last February, after another mechanical problem arose, I was driving back from a grocery run and a women hit my van and totaled it. We looked up the blue book value and figured we'd be lucky to get even $2000 from the insurance company.

But God! We got an incredible amount for some reason. With the money we bought a newer used van for cash, paid some medical bills, sent Compassion gifts, and bought used school curriculum.

All of those needs seemed daunting to us, but God had a plan.

Of course he did!

Why did we have to struggle and not know? Uncertainty is hard, but it doesn't mean something is wrong. It doesn't mean God is displeased with you. All we need is faith--with faith nothing is really a struggle, unless we make it so by taking our eyes off of Jesus.

I think when the woman in the comment section complained that they're struggling on $41,000, she really meant that God too often provided at the last minute, and she didn't like that. That feels like struggle because we want our way and aren't getting it.

God doesn't struggle...we do, and it's a choice.

What does God want from us?

Follow me. It's so simple isn't it, and yet we make it so complicated?

Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  

Now let's turn to the topic of splurges. What role should they play in our lives, if any?

Let's analyze what splurges are really about, to start.

What is eating out mainly about? It's about being served.

What is having your nails or hair done really about? They're about being served.

What are vacations mainly about? Being served.

What is having the car washed really about? Being served.

What is having the latest fashions really about? Looking good externally.

What is having new furniture really about? Looking good externally.

What is having colored hair mainly about? Looking good externally.

Jesus served. He was all about serving others and denying himself.

What did he care about most, in regards to people? Their hearts...the inner part.

If we spent less time running around chasing the external, and more time on the heart, we wouldn't struggle so much with what's expected of us. We'd just know.

The question is not really how much should we give, or how much should we sacrifice. It's this: What should my life be about?

Service. Not being served, but serving. Not keeping up with the Joneses, but loving your neighbor.

If we spent our time serving others as we should, we wouldn't have all this time on our hands to serve ourselves. How we spend both our time and money is a window unto our hearts.

Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money

If you have some Joneses in your life, drop them. Whatever friends are influencing you to be consumers (to consume is to serve yourself), rather than servers of Christ, drop them.

Look for authentic followers of Christ. People who serve others; people who, while still neat and clean, are not concerned with the external. These people will not be impressed with your hair, your nails, your splurges. They will not compete with you, nor encourage you to compete with them. They are not addicted to themselves, but to Jesus.

Look for those who would further your spiritual growth, not stunt it. Following Jesus also means following those who are like Him.

How much should you much should you sacrifice?

First, follow Him...then the answer will reveal itself.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

God loves a cheerful giver, because a cheerful giver is a Christ follower.

Prayer time: 

Dear Heavenly Father,  We thank you for this blogging trip we've followed. It has sharpened us Lord, and we needed it. First-world values get into our veins and we get off track. May our hearts and heads follow you, Jesus. May our schedules be about time with you, and serving others. May we be your hands and feet to a hurting world. May we take pleasure in you, not in ourselves. Make us cheerful givers who can't stop pouring out your love to the needy and to the lost. Help us to choose our friends wisely and be Jesus models to those around us. Help it to be about our hearts, not our external.

In Jesus' name I pray, Amen


Beth said...

Thank you for sharing this. I agree with your point about tithe is obeying.

Sarah said...

TO be beyond generous ... everything for my Jesus.

Kinda of liking our momma notes. I do hope you'll join us again and link up. Wanna join us? Slip your fave recipe, notes of encouragement, birthday pics, all things gloriously mom, into the link up. Just moms. Sharing our notes. Creating a melody.

Be blessed bunches,