Back in April I was on a week-long “Missions Mobilizing Training” program. One evening the team and I took part in a world poverty simulation.
There were 4 groups, and each group represented a true portion of wealth around the world. The first group was the smallest and they were given an amazing 3 course meal. The second group was the largest and they were given a meat and rice dish. The third group was the second largest and they were given just plain rice. Finally fourth group, the third largest, wasn’t given anything at all to eat.
In real life many of us fit into the smallest and most wealthy group. It’s nearly impossible to capture the true essence of real poverty when we live above the poverty line and therefore it cannot be claimed that this simulation turns us into experts. But it does create awareness and it does give our western minds context.
There was a lot of playful behaviour throughout the simulation. Groups two and three kept stealing off each other. But as I watched them, it stirred up something in me, Frustration. I was in the last group, the one without any food at all. These groups had food. So why were they not content with what they had? Why did they feel it was their right to take more?
It made me think of all the times I opened my own fridge and thought, “There is a lot of food in here, but nothing looks appealing, I will go to the shop and buy something else.” It made me think of all the times I consequently wasted food just because I didn’t want it at the time. It made me think of the times I chose to be selfish, greedy and dissatisfied with what I had.
Eventually, people from groups two and three started to bring food to us. At first I was grateful as I was hungry! But then I got, Angry. They were sharing their left overs with me. Left overs. Stuff that they had literally dug about in with their hands, took all they wanted, and gave me the remainder. I wasn’t good enough for anything more than “left overs”.
God calls us to tithe 10% of what we have but the more I thought about it, the more I realised, “I don’t miss that 10%, I barely notice it’s gone, it’s just my left overs.” It is bold of me to speak on behalf of those other than myself but I feel confident in saying that I see myself and so many others giving our left overs to people.
We give our left overs to others when it comes to our time, our money, our attention, our clothing, our belongings… We take what we want, what we think we need and then offer the remainder to those around us. Or we offer what is of least cost to us. Is that not insulting? Why do we act so sacrificial, righteous and as though we have done something pleasant? Have we really truly? Or did we give left overs?
I would never treat my sister like that. If she needed something, I wouldn’t give her my left overs. I would literally give her my kidney before letting her live below the poverty line. So why does it stop there? Why do I not have the same attitude towards others? God calls us to LOVE one another, He didn’t call us to LIKE one another. So why am I willing to give my sister everything and not someone else?
Pride? Greed? I earned this money. I worked for this opportunity. I saved for this item of clothing. I take nothing to the grave so why then do I go about life saying “this is mine”. In England I was brought up in a cultural, social and economic society that said told me if I wanted something I had to work for it and/or do it myself. So it’s hard for me to change my mentality to reflect actually what is true: everything I have is a gift from God. As for our time, God calls us to be in relationship with one another. Why then do I give less than 10% of my time to quality relationships with others?
We talk so much about being a body of Christ, being family, we are all God’s people… why does there seem to be such a struggle extend that into our finances? Into our processions? Into our time? What then is community? What then is God calling us to do when He says, “Give”. Do I really see you as family if I withhold myself and anything in my procession?
My own argument was, “Yes, we need to give but we need wisdom because we have responsibilities.” But the more I examined my own heart on that the more I realised, “No, I just don’t trust God.” I don’t fully trust God that He will provide for me. I don’t fully trust God that if I see someone in need and give them what I have, that God will make sure I am not without and will bless me for it. I don’t fully trust God that if I bless someone He will bless me for it. I don’t fully trust God that if I spend time with someone He will bless me with rest elsewhere. I chose to not live and see God’s blessings, I chose to not be a part of God’s greater story, and I chose to rob God of opportunities. God has proved over and over again that I cannot out give Him. And yet I still don’t trust Him.
God forgive me for my total lack of trust in You. Thank you so showing me over and over again that You are GOD. Give me wisdom and the ability to offer You so much more of my time, being and what I have. Continue to speak truth to me that with You, I cannot go wrong.
“Taste & see that the Lord is Good. The joys of those who trust in Him! Let the Lord’s people show Him reverence. For those who honour Him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will never lack any good thing.” – Psalm 34:8-10