It was shortly after I moved to Papua New Guinea. I had almost finished unpacking my boxes and boxes of goods; books, ornaments, picture frames, crafts, and kitchenware—you name it and I probably had it. As I emptied each box, I would break it down and stack it outside the house in readiness for our twice-weekly garbage collection. It seemed like a perfectly normal moving activity to me.
Then one day my haus meri (maid) came to me and asked if she could take some of the boxes home. I had no further use for them, so naturally I consented. Day by day she would bundle up half a dozen boxes and take them home with her. I didn't think much more about it until a year or two later when I went to visit her house in the settlement (a ‘village’ of squatters living in shabbily built dwellings on private or government land).
We climbed the mountain with a small entourage leading us to my haus meri's home. The path was steep, the ground slippery, and the streams muddy. Little children raced along the path, as agile and sure-footed as we were slow and clumsy. Eventually, tired and with sweaty brows, we reached my haus meri's home.
I was shocked however to see how my waste, the cardboard boxes I considered garbage, had been used. The floor of the little house was dirt (presumably mud when it rained). The roof, its best feature, was of rusty tin. The walls were a timber frame holding cardboard—my cardboard boxes—in place to keep the rain and mosquitoes and wild animals out.
I felt an overwhelming sorrow.
Luke 12:48 says, “to whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.”
You and I are rich. Maybe not filthy rich (I certainly don't own a penthouse, or have a new pair of shoes every week, or drive a convertible sports car), but we are rich nevertheless. I have a job, I own a car, I have running water to my house (I even flush my toilet with drinking quality water), I have a roof over my head, I have clothes to spare, my child is in school, and I can afford healthcare. The list goes on and on, but I think you get the picture. We are so much richer than much of the world, where simple day-to-day survival is a struggle. You and I both are so very blessed!
So, what is God calling you to do with your riches? I am sure he is not asking you to hoard it all up for yourself. Jesus once told the parable in Luke 12 of a rich man who accumulated so much wealth that he ran out of room to store it all, so decided to build bigger storage units. God then described the man as foolish and noted that the man would die that very night, illustrating the point that it is futile to accumulate material wealth, rather than investing in God's kingdom.
Matthew 6:19–21 says, “Don't lay up treasure for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves do not break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Every day we see in the news examples of why it is futile to store up treasures on earth—volcanoes erupt, earthquakes and tremendous storms occur, stock markets crash, homes are invaded, and so many other tragedies strike. It is far better that we invest in something lasting, something of eternal value.
Is God calling you to purchase Bibles for mission work? Is God calling you to support a missionary family? Is God calling you to provide a cow or a garden to a struggling family? Is God calling you to raise funds to build a dormitory or extra classrooms in a mission school?
Whatever God's call is for you, it is my prayer that you decide today to use your blessings for his purposes. Let us each resolve to give up some of our riches to bless others more needy than ourselves, and above all, to further the kingdom of heaven.
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