Money makes me sad. Not money in and of itself. It’s really just pieces of paper or metal that we have given a lot of meaning to. But money has huge shaping powers in our lives, in our communities, in our churches, society, and world. We’ve given money the power in how we interact with others, where and how we live, where and how we work, what we do with our time, what we value… money.
And it makes me sad. Because money often lures us to do things we don’t want to do. To live lives off-balance. To have too much or too little, but often not simply “our daily bread”. We get caught up in making more to spend more, compromising to make some because we are so desperately poor, or having so much extra money we feel guilty and want to swear it off all together.
Lately, how we spend our money, as individuals and as a society, has made me really sad. We can justify spending $30 to go out to eat pretty easily, but have a hard time giving that money to a friend that can’t make ends meet. We are so wired to think of our money as our own, to be used for comfort, protection, and advancement, that it is often so difficult to see how messed up our own priorities have become. I struggle with this every time I pay a huge tuition bill, fully realizing how much good that few thousand dollars can do in the world, and that it is all being spent on my education. I know, I can justify spending that money on my own education a million ways, and some of them probably very truthful, but in the end I find it so easy to spend money on ourselves and so difficult to spend it on others.
The “Billion Dollar Gram” is a visual way to see how all those billions of dollars we talk about compare. It makes it easy to see how much we’re actually talking about when we say $465 billion dollars can feed and educate every child in the world for five years, compared to the $3000 billion estimated spending on the Iraq War. It makes it clear how much our financial priorities, at all levels, have become about self-preservation.
Meanwhile we sit just like we don’t give a shit
About 50,000 people who are dyin’ today
Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?
-Derek Webb “What Matters More”
God, we repent of our own propensity to spend our money on ourselves, and our unwillingness to bless others as generously as you have blessed us.