Of Money, Judgement, and Thankfulness

My family has been on the road for the last three-and-a-half weeks. It’s been a long trip and we’ve been through ten states and driven four thousand miles. We also saw a lot of friends, family, and folks who support our ministry. Some of these people have a lot of money.

Whatever you imagine a lot of money to be, double it. I mean bigger houses, larger tracks of land, stronger air conditioning, more elaborate showers and bathrooms, and more boats. It was awesome.

I have a confession to make though, I have coveted these things in a way I don’t recall ever coveting before. Part of it is being hit with a reminder of the enormity of the city we live in overseas, and the way it contrasts with the vastness of space available in America. Part of it is just how uncomfortable we are and just how comfortable America can be. But part of it is definitely that there are a lot of people in this world who make A LOT more money than me, and sometimes I wonder if I’d rather be earning that kind of money instead of being a missionary.

I also have another confession to make, I often judge these people and their “fortunes”. My natural response to this much money is to believe that people must have lost their souls to get it. They must be slaves to work and have terrible marriages. They must value all the wrong things in this world. These people are clearly sinners because the righteous all live overseas as missionaries or in tiny houses living humble lives in America.

I don’t really believe this in my head, but sometimes this seems to be what comes out of my heart.

This then begs the question, “Just how big is a humble home?” Three bedroom in the city or four in the suburbs? Or is a trailer a humble home? Can it have a backyard? What about a swimming pool? Why do I have specific lines in the sand that I use to judge others? And why am I comparing folks to me and my economic situation as though I were the perfect example for all to follow? Because I’m acting like a Pharisee.

I knew in my head that there were people with thousands of acres of land, but I never saw it with my eyes until now. I knew in my head that there are people who own (multiple) lake houses in country clubs with golf courses and private air strips, but this is my first time experiencing what that means.

And seeing it with my own eyes has been shocking to me. But there is another thing which has been shocking on this trip. These people who seem to me Loaded with a capital L, are also Generous with a capital G. They share their boats, their houses, their food, even their beer, and often their money with missionaries like me—some of whom they don’t even know. I was blessed incredibly with rest and comfort by an outrageous number of people who did things like take me on carts through cattle ranches (and even let me drive). I was blessed by huge beds with lots of blankets in the middle of summer with completely unnecessary air conditioning.

I was blessed by the Lord, via these people, with good gifts of outrageous comfort and as a bonus I was able to be humbled in the process. All the money in all the earth, and everything in the earth is the Lord’s. Why do I assume anyone using it differently than me is a sinner?

I’m so thankful these people have more than me and are willing to bless me with it. I need to learn how to use what I have to bless others better. Because I tend to be willing to share my house until the first time someone puts a stain on my carpet, or moves a measuring cup to the wrong cupboard.

My prayer is that I can maintain a posture of humble thankfulness for the opportunity to experience and enjoy this wealth. That is, instead of my natural reaction of covetousness and judgement. Give me the grace Lord!