Every statistic stands against you. By virtue of where you live, how much money you make a week and what you had for supper last night, you are going to feel guilty. Could it be that you don’t have to live off of less than $2.00 a day? Or maybe you have a car (or bike) to get to work with- which makes you among the riches people in the world. It seems as though many non-profit organizations like to capitalize on these kind of statements. Is this good motivation to live simply and have generosity towards others?
Think of the Gospel
Jesus, who became flesh for the sake of sinners, and died that we might live, displayed generosity on a massive scale. He had riches abounding but considered it all loss for our sake (Phil. 2.5-11 and many others show this truth). And because of this Gospel- the truth of Jesus living again after dying for us and purchasing our lives from the dead- we are able and willing to be generous with our lives. Paul makes this correlation in 2 Corinthians 8.8-15 emphasizing the point that we become rich through the poverty of Christ and are called to make others rich through our abundance.
How far is too far?
Shaine Claiborne, a founding partner of The Simple Way is known for living in poverty for the sake of others. Whatever we feel about his ministry (and I haven’t always been as fond as I could be), we cannot deny that he is doing great things for others in the name of Christ. The Simple way gives everything away and serves the needy. Sounds great, right? But is there a time and place where we don’t need to give things away? Can we be generous and frugal at the same time? Wouldn’t wisdom tell us that?
Poverty and Prosperity Theology… is there a middle ground?
This is a great video that aired about a year ago. Listen in at about 8:45 for the relevant portion:
Maybe we don’t have to pursue suffering or riches; maybe we can be content where we are and serve in the way that God wishes us to serve. Maybe we can agree with Paul when he says in Philippians 4.11-13:
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.