The dangers of success

It has been a long time since I posted. It seems that a lot of my epiphanies are on weight loss or marriage as of late. Not anything I felt like writing a few paragraphs about. This last week has been a rather revealing one for me. I have seen a ton of posts about Joseph Kony in Africa and the horrors that he has committed. I read a post on another blog that I read about the organization Invisible Children which I used to donate to. I learned that only 39% of the money that they received through donations actually went to help people. That was a little disheartening to me, but I hadn’t given in a while. The last few years I haven’t been doing that fantastic financially. Then I had a wedding to pay for, and to make sure my wife and I were doing alright financially. My wife has recently been saying that we should be giving more. I agree with her, but it always seemed odd for me to tithe back to the church that pays me. So in the past I have given to charitable organizations. Anyway, my giving is not really the reason why I am writing a post just now.
I had a conversation with the book group that I am a part of last week about the fact that our society is now in a trend of ungratefulness, disrespect, and general rudeness. I feel like such an old geezer when i say that, “In my day we respected our elders!!!” I had talked about how I think the reason for this is that we have been doing alright as a society. That despite the recession, we are still doing alright. I had commented that when we get to a comfortable point we tend as a people to forget how we got there. This is shown in the Israelite people over and over again in the old testament. They are victims of their own success. God delivers them and then they become successful. When they become successful they forget about God. When they forget about God things start falling apart. When things fall apart they cry out to God again, and the cycle repeats itself. I think as a people we forget where we came from. I think one of the reasons that we feel like things are falling apart now is because we have been successful for so long, and we forgot how God brought us here. It seems to be the natural consequences of the world. Now in no way am I getting all Pat Robertson on you all saying “The reason our lives suck is because we are such horrid sinners”. No, I’m saying we are forgetting to share what we have!
In Deuteronomy God is discussing rules with the Israelite people who have just been freed from slavery. God is teaching them how to be a society. In the 24 chapter near the end is talk about what to do with crops. God reminds the people to not forget where they came from. God says don’t forget that you were slaves once, and that wasn’t a great situation. So then God goes on to tell them to leave a corner of the fields for the “Widow, orphan, and immigrant”. This continues for a couple of different types of crops and what they should do to help. I think this is very important to remember, not just for the Israelite people (who as we see forget every so often), but also for us as a Church. As a Christian people, we were oppressed. We were hunted. We were fed to lions for the amusement of others. We grew and then we became the oppressors. We became the hunters. We fed others to lions and other atrocities all in the name of “righteousness”. We forgot where we came from, and we no longer helped those who needed us.
I have been on a lot of short term missions trips, and have talked to a lot of people who have been on them as well. One of the overwhelming things that I hear and I remember from these trips is the impressions that the people in those respective places made on us. We were the ones who left to help them, but in the process they helped us. I remember one of the missions trips i took to Mexico. I went with my youth group, at the time i was in youth group. I remember we were building houses for families that needed them. I remember that these people we were building houses for would come out and make sure we had food or something to drink. I remember they gave what they had even though it was so little. They seemed so much happier than a lot of people back home did. Yet they needed a house…
The reason why I brought up my giving at the beginning is that I seem to have forgotten as well where I came from. I forgot that I was struggling at points. That I couldn’t afford to go get the help that I needed. That I needed help at that time, and it was such a difficult thing to get. That when i was helped and when i did get things turned around I helped for a while, but then I forgot again. Maybe that’s why Jesus said that it was harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into heaven. It’s because the rich people forgot where they came from. They forgot to help others who are trying to get out of that situation as well. What about you? Are you doing what you can to help those who need you? Maybe if you do you will see that it was you that needed them all along. Just like we needed those people on our mission trips that showed us that you don’t need things to make you happy. All you need is a giving heart, love, and a joyful spirit.

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