It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex, a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage, frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness, trinket gods, magic-show religion, paranoid loneliness, cutthroat competition, all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants, a brutal temper, an impotence to love or be loved, divided homes and divided lives, small-minded and lopsided pursuits, the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival, uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions, ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.
But what happenes when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard--things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. -Galatians 5:19-23 [The Message]
And something I read in the Nov/Dec issue of Relevant:
Sobering Fact #23:
The Power of Giving
If Christians had given the traditional 10 percent tithe of their income to their churches in 2004, instead of the 2.56 percent they actually gave, there would have been an additional $164 billion available, according to a report released in October called "The State of Church Giving through 2004." If the churches chose to funnel just $80 billion of that additional income to missions and humanitarian works, the basic needs of every person on the globe would be provided.
What are we doing with our lives? Have you ever been face to face with a starving, impoverished community, forced to drink contaminated water and scratch a living off a rock? Millions around the world could be provided for if we who say we are Christians would live out what we claim to believe. No one would have to starve. What's 10 percent of an income? Not much... not much at all; yet if we all gave, we could love our neighbors around the world tangibly. After all, what says "I love you" more: preaching words that suffering people never hear from halfway around the world, or giving a bowl of soup to a child who hasn't eaten in days?
Challenge yourself, and challenge your church leaders. We don't have to living in a starving world. We really don't.