See related article, “A Call to Sacrifice.”
By Jennifer Johnson
Each time I move I’m keenly aware of how much junk I own. As I prepared to leave Nashville and join Matt in Philadelphia two years ago, my fourth move in 10 years, I was amazed at how much I’d accumulated—14 antique china plates and three matching cups (Grandma was prone to dropping things). Dozens of books I fully intend to read. Half-used hair products. Barbie dolls with complete outfits. The original packaging for Standard Publishing’s 1984 VBS craft kit featuring my smiling face.
At these moments I’m reminded of Schindler’s List; when the war ends, Oskar Schindler realizes every belonging he kept—each ring, each car, each suit—could have rescued another Jew from the death camps. When I watch that movie I condemn him; of course he should have sold the gold ring and flashy car to save more people. When lives are at stake, shouldn’t someone give all he can?
During my conversation with Titus Benton about The 25 Group, we talked about this inequality. I first met Titus during my trip to India last October, where we witnessed many people living in poverty, scavenging for food, and drinking dirty water. In the face of such hardship, shouldn’t we, too, give all we can?
But if I give away everything, I’ll be poor and others will have to take care of me. So that’s not the answer. Do I keep just enough to live on and give away the rest? Define “live on”—what does that include? Rice and beans and a vitamin pill, or can I have ice cream occasionally? How often? Yes, coffee IS a necessity, but how about soda? One a week?
What about health insurance and retirement savings? I trust God to take care of me, but often he does that by allowing me to plan responsibly. Is it a sin to live modestly yet keep megabucks in my IRA?
The real question is when “enough” becomes excess. We all spend money on nonessentials, and it’s easy to judge others. But with each passing year, each passing move, I also become convinced this is one more gray area in a faith in which we often prefer black and white. Enough becomes too much when it becomes more important than obedience to Christ, and he asks each of us to sacrifice in different ways. I’m just glad he hasn’t asked me to give up coffee yet.