Monday, March 3, 2014

Deep in the Heart of Taxes, Part II

(Thanks for returning for Part II of "Deep in the Heart of Taxes.")

Ann Voskamp wrote in her blog a few days ago: "It’s only by amazing grace you are born where you are — to be abundant, amazing grace for someone born somewhere else.That’s the point.  That’s the point: What God’s graciously given you is always enough to be abundant grace for someone else."  (Bold emphasis mine)

So, we're back at this really fun topic (ha!) of money...

rich vs. poor...
right vs. wrong?
I don't know why I feel uncomfortable even typing these words.  
But at my core, I think it has to do with the stigma of poverty...
and also one of wealth...
both being topics that are not likely to enter polite conversation...
and the guilt (or lack thereof!) that oft accompanies having while others do not.

As Ann Voskamp mentions above, we are blessed beyond measure that we have been born where we are.  This is only by God's amazing grace.  I can't solve the problem of hunger or poverty or even put a band-aid on that which would stem the flow of sickness in the world with this one post. But thankfully at church yesterday, God answered my constant prayers on this subject through our church's scripture and the sermon.  (And how fitting that the Gospel reading was Matthew 6:27-33, the very Scripture I mentioned in Part I on which I wished I could base my whole financial philosophy!  God is really cheeky...)

I don't know much but I know two things with complete certainty.
God wants to bless His children.
God wants His children to bless others.

But, ultimately, how do we know what to do with these blessings?  I think it's by faithfully doing three things:

Prayerfully discerning.
Then, above all else...

Doing the right thing.

The right thing will be different for each of us.  

Some will give everything away and move to Africa to build a school or a church or a shelter. 
Some will work and contribute in local communities, feeding those who have nothing.  
Some will welcome others into their homes - poor or rich, stranger or family, foe or friend - making each feel welcome and cared for, as every person requires support in their own singular way.
And each of these directions is equally important in their way.  

As Deacon Shane said in his homily yesterday, the answer to wealth doesn't lie in extremes.

You see, the world wouldn't work if we all sold everything and moved away to care for others.
Nor would it work for every person to care for only the people in their immediate circle.
The beauty of God's system is we each have a calling...and we don't decide what it is.
God does.

He knows each person's capabilities.
He knows each person's gifts.
The key is to prayerfully listen to His call then do as He bids.
We can't tell others what to do.
We shouldn't make them feel guilty for being blessed.
And we shouldn't feel guilty for enjoying our own blessings and gifts.
I don't think He wants that either.
I'm convinced that God created beauty for His children to enjoy.  (In fact, it's scriptural.)
That we should look around us; see the beauty; revel in His glorious touch on all things good; and let that inspire us to share that beauty with others is one of His greatest gifts to us.
As long as we serve only one Master - 
not living for money, loving money, or making the acquisition of wealth our goal - 
but also not living in shame for our blessings...
As long as we consciously bless others with the blessings we've been gifted, we are living with God's grace.

"I came that you that you may have life in abundance."
He wants us to abundantly live...
abundantly give...
abundantly enjoy His plan for us as we walk in charity and love to His heavenly kingdom.

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