Why is it so unamerican to be generous? Why do so many people throw their money away on useless things, when the people on the other side of town, or even next door, can’t afford the gas to pick their kid from their dad’s?
Yesterday, my wife and I were enjoying lunch with a pleasant couple from our church. During our discussion, they shared that they are needing to move. They expressed that they have no shortage of funds to be able to go out and buy 10 acres of prime farm land and build themselves a dream home, but they aren’t sure where to build. The clincher? They are both in their twenties. Granted, there is nothing inherently wrong with what they are planning to do. If I had the cash, I would probably be very motivated to do the same. Not many get to live out their “american dream” like that, and I’m fairly certain we all would love to have the opportunity to build our dream home, someday.
Today, however, I received a call from a lady in her thirties who literally needed someone to give her enough money to drive two towns over to pick up her son from his dad’s and then drive to the food pantry so that she could feed her family. Cost? $45.
This is a problem.
First of all, why has no one been helping this lady already so that she didn’t get herself to this point? For example, she has a monthly income of $697 and spends $630 of it on rent, not including utilities. She has a friend who helps her pay for extra expenses, but the longer I think about her need, the more I wonder why she doesn’t seek out a less expensive place to live? I spend $450 a month on rent, and live in a three bedroom house!* Has anyone who knows how to be thrifty with finances even met with her and helped her differentiate between needs and wants? Has anyone helped her map out a way that she can actually afford to live on less than $1000 a month? Where are all those people who could do this without a second thought?
Why is it that I am the one who ended up helping this lady, and not my friend who could buy my house five times and be fine? Why does the idea of going out of the way to help those who legitimately need it not eat away at wealthy people who go to church and call themselves Christians, but spend their money on expensive things they don’t even come close to needing? Why couldn’t my friend have said to me yesterday over lunch, “Hey, if you know of anyone in need, please let me be the first to know so that I can share with them what the Lord has seen fit to bless me with?” Why did I not even think of any of this before I received this call today?
Going back to the whole “unamerican” thing, why is it that most people don’t consider their community to be as much their own responsibility as their own home? Why do we think other people’s poverty is not of our concern? Why do I go out and spend $30 on a meal of junk food, but cringe at someone’s legitimate need for $45 in gas?
Though I could continue, for now, these are all my questions. I hope you will comment and get some interesting discussions going. My purpose with this post is not to bad-mouth anyone or stereotype the rich, the poor, the Christian, the unbelieving. I just want to reassess why we do what we do as Americans from my own small-town perspective. Your thoughts?
*NOTE: I realize my example of rent expense is not a normal circumstance. Most people aren’t as blessed as my wife and I to have such low living expenses, but it is possible where we live. We don’t make much, so we know the Lord has provided according to our needs, but we lack for nothing; therefore, it was my privilege to help out someone in need, and will continue to be.