Wes and I were watching a show the other day about the world’s most expensive desserts. Topping the list at an unbelievable $1000 was this little treat, the Golden Opulence Sundae…
(Yes, that’s edible gold and caviar.)
In addition to interviews from a Serendipity chef, who talked about what makes this dessert so expensive and such a once-in-a-lifetime experience, there were interviews from patrons who had enjoyed it. One woman, who shared the treat with her daughter for a sweet sixteen celebration, had this to say — “That’ll show my neighbors.”
$1000. Spent on ice cream. To show up your neighbors.
In chapter five of James, he addresses the rich. “You have lived on the earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.” We may very well think that these verses don’t apply to us because we sure don’t feel rich, but when you compare yourself with the rest of the world, you are wealthier than 99% of the world’s population if you’re reading this. (Making the assumption here that you’re reading this on a computer or a phone or have access to one or both of these.)
Good news, friends! You’re rich! Bad news, friends! You’re rich!
Let me say that I am VERY cautious about adopting a poverty theology mindset. While I think caring for the poor, loving the poor, and having a heart that is turned towards alleviating poverty for God’s glory is WONDERFUL, I think our inclination as fallen people is to take pride in how much we can sacrifice in our quest to do so. Do I believe God calls some to give away everything they have? Yes. Do I believe God calls ALL of us to give away everything we have? No. Do I believe God calls us to a place spiritually where we should be willing to give away everything we have? YES! We should all love God more than we love our stuff, the people around us, our freedom, even our food — and we should reflect this incredible love for God with how we live in relation to these resources.
How much is too much? If a $1000 dessert is irresponsible extravagance, how about an $8 frozen yogurt at Cherry Berry? How about a Moo bar from Wal Mart? A tiny little dribble of ice cream that’s dripped onto the sidewalk from someone else’s cone?
I’m not sure where the line is or that there are easy answers. I think, though, that the bigger question is our motivation behind our spending. Like the lady who ate the Golden Opulence, if our reason for spending is to fill some need we’re trying to meet that only God should be meeting in our lives (in her case, she was looking for significance by being greater than her neighbors, instead of finding her significance in Christ), then it’s irresponsible. This measurement keeps us from getting legalistic and makes it even more crucial that we approach every decision from a God-centered motivation.
We must be exceedingly careful, though, in our endeavor to give all to God and hold nothing back that we don’t unintentionally slander and gossip against those who perhaps are either not called to the same level of giving (Christ himself told Peter that what was planned for him — martyrdom — had nothing whatsoever to do with what was planned for John — a long life — and simply, “You follow me,” John 21:18-22) or who just don’t seem to “get it” from our estimation of things. While giving all for God’s glory and becoming so very poor for Christ’s sake is a wonderful witness and testimony to the sufficiency of Christ, our tendency to tear down those who aren’t doing likewise is counterproductive to the Gospel and is exactly what James warned against in James 5:9.
So, give as you’re led to give. And make Christ and His glory the motivation and measure by which you make ALL decisions!