Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Lies of Affluence

I have been pondering some thoughts on a question..."Am I rich?" It's interesting that at first, as an American, I try to compare by saying "Well, I'm not as rich as some..."
When my Ugandan friend,
who grew up on the streets, says to me "Mama, you are rich and you can raise your children in safety", there is nothing to say but a quiet, respectful "Yes, son". This is just a statement of a fact for my friend...not a comparison even...but a reality.
A devotion that I picked up called Hope Lives, by Amber Van Schooneveld, has really added to my thinking on this. In the Day 2 reading it says (in part) "You are rich...even if you're from a low-income household in America. Did you drink clean water today without risk of death or disease? Are you wearing a pair of shoes? Do you have a dry, safe place to sleep tonight? Did you eat today? You are rich. You are richer than billions of others."
Ronald J. Sider, in Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, says "One of the most astounding things about the affluent minority is that we honestly think we have barely enough to survive in modest comfort."
It's true isn't it...the affluent minority...
(Please, I know that there are many, especially right now, who are really hurting financially here in America...but, I also know that I'm not one of them...)
In Hope Lives, Amber says "I've reclassified my luxuries to necessities. The standard of living in America is constantly on the rise."

I was reading James 5:1-6 this morning (please take time to read this), and part of verse 3 grabbed me, "You have laid up treasure in the last days." and in verse 5 "You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence."
In the past when I have read James 5:1, which starts out "come now, you rich..."; unintentionally, I would "skipped" this part...I'm not really rich, so...this is talking to those that are rich...
but, now if I look at these verses with new eyes...that I AM rich, then the Spirit of the LORD can speak to me...and He did...He asked me to look around and see treasures I have laid up or how I have lived in luxury and self-indulgence.
I  also read in Jeremiah 49:4 "Why do you boast of your valleys, O faithless daughter, who trusted in her treasures, saying, Who will come against me?"
I really don't keep much extra "stuff" because I hate "clutter"...which by the way, do we realize we BUY books to help us organize our "stuff", or dejunk our stuff because we have too much!!! God has the best plan for decluttering...give it away!

So, back to the Jeremiah verse...I asked the LORD what this means and He showed me that when we have treasures and things "laid up", put away for later, or "just in case I need that", or "my child might grow into that"... I am trusting in these things to take care of me and I do not need to trust in the LORD. What if I gave away every coat I have stored in the basement to others in need and trust that the LORD will provide coats for the children when they need them? Why am I keeping SO MANY clothes for us all? Have I believed that I am being good and saving us money by having those extra clothes or do I feel safer knowing that they are there and I wont have to "trust" the LORD later. It's really a heart issue...some times I am being wise, some times though I am afraid of needing or wanting something later, so I put up "treasures" to "protect" myself.

Steve and I are praying and asking the children also to let the LORD show us things that we might be storing up...things we need to let go of and give to someone who could use it now and trust the LORD to take care of us tomorrow.
Just some things that were on my mind.... 


  1. Truly, we who live in the U.S., are so very rich by the world's standards. This is something that we think about, pray about and talk with our kids about often. May our riches be truly used for His glory and not my own selfish desires.

  2. Beautiful thoughts and words. Thanks for sharing. We are so blessed. So many in America focus on what they don't have, instead of appreciating and sharing what they do have :)

  3. REALLY great post, Shonni. I have been having some of the same thoughts lately as I've teetered between complaining about how tight finances are right now...and see ALL that we have. Our blessings outweigh our "discomfort", hands down.

    Thanks for the very important reminder of how very rich we truly are. I definitely have some simplifying to do...thanks for the inspiration.

  4. GREAT post!! After several trips to Africa, I can't help but see how rich we are, I look around at my stuff and my heart breaks that I have been such a poor steward. And now you have given me even more to think about... I love how God uses His children to sharpen and shape each other!

  5. Great post, Shonni! Yes ... even though our family lives on MUCH less than the majority of our friends ... we are still rich. We still have food to eat, clean water to drink, beds to sleep in, a roof over our head. Yes. We are rich.

    We may drive older cars. We may shop at thrift stores. We may not have the latest fashions. We may wear hand-me-downs. (Our youngest son's favorite coat has gone through ALL 6 BROTHERS, but it still works.) We may not eat out very often. We may not have all that we want. But ... we are still rich. Very rich, compared to so much of the world.

    When we have traveled to Africa, as you and I have, we KNOW that we are rich. We can no longer compare and say, "But ... I'm not rich compared to so-and-so." No. We must admit that we are rich.

    We are moving out of our 3400 sq. ft. house and into a 1,000 sq. ft farmhouse. We will, obviously, be selling some things (which will provide for us now that we are in full time ministry with a limited salary), but we will also be giving away a LOT of "stuff". Just "stuff". Living in a borrowed 1,000 sq. ft. the past 3 months has really showed us how little we can live with. We didn't bring much with us ... and we are realizing how much we don't really need.

    Hugs from the Big D. Family!!!

    :) :) :)

    PS: Random Question ... do you know Treon Goosen (?) through homeschooling??? Just curious ... we've gotten connected through a couple of our Big Kids.

  6. What a powerful message! I have heard a similar message from a speaker raising support for the Mocha Club. He said if you own a computer, made more than X amount of dollars (very low amount), you were richer than something like 95% of the rest of the world. I think every person showed go on at least one mission trip to visit the poorer parts of the world to see how rich we really are.

  7. That was a great post! I am praying that these truths will sink in more everyday.

  8. SO true! For us, God has shown us so much through each adoption. After we finish our 2 current adoptions this summer, we plan to downsize our house so we can adopt more kids!! The world will surely think we are crazy putting more kids in less space! Janet

  9. Good post Shonni!

    As we are in the middle of moving back to America, it is a great time for us to clear out our home and sell but also give away many items that we have been storing up. There is such a freedom in this. I know that when we move back to the states, there is the temptation to get caught up in the materialism there because things are so much cheaper than England! We need Jesus to guard our hearts. But I fully agree with you, we are so rich because we are in Christ!

  10. Oh and I forgot to mention that I spent ALL day yesterday in our attic clearing out the kids clothes and that same thought came into my mind..... we had so many clothes and coats to pass onto the younger children but I must give them away and trust God's provision when the time comes! Knowing also that we will have to pay for shipping some of our furniture over, I knew I had to be ruthless! Afterwards, there were many big bags to give away to friends and I even had a girlfriend who asked if I had any of my clothes I wanted to give away...... if she could have them. Of course she could!! I have loads of clothes.... I love clothes and that is my weakness! So it is a real freedom for me to give them away!

  11. Wow Shonni this is a great post. Often times I look around at what I have and feel so guilty knowing that so many people don't even have clean drinking water. We take so much for granted in this country. Thank you for writing this.

  12. Love this! You have shared so much of what is in my mind and heart.

  13. I think about those same things, and am continually praying that God will free us from our addiction to THINGS other than Him! Thank you for reminding us of this!

  14. AMEN!!!

    Not only are we rich in this present time, but compared to everyone that has lived before us. Solomon didn't have an air conditioned car. It is really astounding when you stop and ponder it. Then I start to wonder, what then is our responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ that are truly poor? How do we reach them? To whom much is given much will be required. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, now I don't have to write my own post about it.

  15. thank you for such a powerful post! i grew up 'poor' in the US...(but yes so rich compared to most around the world!) I learned to save and hold on to stuff we may need and look for deals (and then not pass them up) make a buck where I could-over the last couple of years God has been chipping away at me-it was HUGE thing for me to GIVE stuff to Sally Anne rather tthan have a garage sale (I am embarrassed to admit it,,but there it is). I LOVE what you say, about holding on to things we may need in the future actually potentially being a sign of not trusting God to provide when we need it. You have given me something to think about. :) darci

  16. Thank you for sharing what is on my heart! You have such a way with words! I was irritated today when a dear friend suggested having a Boutique sale to raise money... for herself. I just had to walk away - I will help raise money for others but not for myself!
    God has provided for us in abundance!


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