Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What Would You Do If . . .?

Is the love of money the root of all evil or is money a tool that helps us accomplish many good things?  Is it both?

I would like to find a way to engage in genuine discussion.  So, if this gets you thinking, please respond.  I won't let it get (too) personal if you participate. 

If I had a million dollars (I'd be rich - according to the Bare Naked Ladies) - what is your answer?

What would you do if . . . you were given a $100 bill?

You know, a Benjamin.  A C-Note.

Very often, I see situations where I think "if I only had the money to help, then I would . . .."  Do what?  Would I give money?  Would I use the money to purchase something and give it away?  Would I find a way to help that does not involve cash at all?

I think that, as Americans, we see a need and we desire to fix it.  Often times, to our surprise, the people we are trying to help didn't know that they needed any.  They don't see a problem at all.  This is especially the case, I have seen, in other cultures when North Americans enter the picture because we desire to make things "better."

Better usually means more like the United States.

Does that make me sound unpatriotic?

I hope not.  I believe the US has been a great example to the rest of the world of the hope that comes from principles of human rights being derived, not from man or government, but from our Creator.  While we are not perfect, our striving to fulfill the belief that "all men are created equal" is a powerful force for good in the world.

So, we try to make things "better" by making them like us.

To our surprise, that doesn't always improve things.  It results in loss of culture, of a singular vision of the world which is not (always) healthy.  If we are honest, the American way is not the only, best way. 

Which gets me to my question. 

If I gave you $100 in response to my question, just handed you a C-note, told you that you had to use it to help someone else, how would you use the money? 

Would you limit yourself to only the $100? 

Would you involve others in your decision?

Is there already something, someone or someplace that you have in mind you would like to see benefit from the money?

Would you use the money for another purpose that ends up helping?

I ask this for a specific reason.  In a recent meeting, this was a topic of discussion and several in the group said that they didn't really know anyone they could help with $100.  I was kind of surprised that there weren't many ideas popping into the heads of those around the table about how it could be used for good.  After all, the people I was talking with are very kindhearted and generous - when they are presented an opportunity to help.

What happens if we have to be on the lookout for ways to help other people?

Do we actually keep our eyes open to those in need or do we wait to hear about some need and then respond?  Is there, essentially, any difference?  I'm not sure.

What I am sure is this - there are those in need everywhere we look.  There are non-profits delivering care all around us.  There are churches that are reaching way beyond their walls to help hurting people.

On mornings when we realize that we have run out of breakfast material at our house, I will make a quick drive to the nearby McDonalds.  I am, every time, amazed at the number of children standing in front of rather sketchy motels, with their backpacks, waiting for the bus.  The motel is their home, for now.  There is a deep sadness that seeps into me - realizing these children come home to this reality.

I have worked with a church that actually meets in a park because that is where the homeless men and women of that part of town gather.  They have a sermon, they sing songs, they pray.  They provide food and warm(er) clothes for those who arrive.  A friend who works within the church tells me that he no longer averts his eyes when he sees a person on the street - but looks them in the eye and tells them about the church services - and gives them a hope for salvation from the life they are living. 

The challenge of what to do with money, how we use it, how we hang on to, whether it is friend or foe, has long been an issue.  Jesus spoke openly and often about money.  The Bible is clear that money can build up and tear down - all in the same person.  

I thought I would let Johnny Cash give you a quick thought of the power of money with the song, "A Satisfied Mind."  Lyrics are powerful and listed below.

 So tell me.  You've just been given $100 to do good.

What do you do with it?

I hope you'll share your ideas.

A Satisfied Mind"                                                            
(originally by Porter Wagoner) 
How many times have
You heard someone say
If I had his money
I could do things my way

But little they know
That it's so hard to find
One rich man in ten
With a satisfied mind

Once I was winning
In fortune and fame
Everything that I dreamed for
To get a start in life's game

Then suddenly it happened
I lost every dime
But I'm richer by far
With a satisfied mind

Money can't buy back
Your youth when you're old
Or a friend when you're lonely
Or a love that's grown cold

The wealthiest person
Is a pauper at times
Compared to the man
With a satisfied mind

When my life has ended
And my time has run out
My friends and my loved ones
I'll leave there's no doubt

But one thing's for certain
When it comes my time
I'll leave this old world
With a satisfied mind

How many times have
You heard someone say
If I had his money
I could do things my way

But little they know
That it's so hard to find
One rich man in ten
With a satisfied mind

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