Monday, January 24, 2011

Disposable income

I read an article recently that has haunted me. I read it the day it was posted and it has been lingering in my mind ever since. The below are the parts that have caused me the most trouble:

Do you think one day we will be held accountable for every dime we spent on sports, and every minute we spent watching sports? If you are not aware, there are some terrible things going on in the world—oppression, starvation, slavery—the sorts of things we as Christians are supposed to be standing up against. How many times have you heard that nearly half the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day? That’s $730 a year ($732 on Leap Year). Or to put it into perspective, about $500 less than I spent on season tickets this season.

Will I get a pass on this at Judgment Day? Will Jesus say, “You spent more money on football tickets than 3 billion of my children lived on in one year, but I understand, those games sure were exciting, well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Of course you can get as legalistic with this as you want. I spent just as much on the cable and Internet bill as I did on football tickets. Is it OK for a Christian to have cable when children are starving in Africa?...Perhaps it’s a question of comfort. If you have disposable income to spend on sporting events, maybe your life has become too comfortable.

Disposable income. I know some people will immediately scoff and say, "I don't have disposable income." Yes you do. Its the money you spend at McDonalds, the movies, the mall, paying for gas to drive anywhere other than your job, etc. We have it and more often than not we use it on ourselves.

Now, Abby and I have a way to keep our disposable income spending down. Its called a budget. Within that budget is "Aaron's Fun Money" column and "Abby's Fun Money" column. (For a full explanation see Fun Money). The only way I can feel comfortable with us even having fun money is if I know we are giving away at least the same amount of money or more to charity, and that does not include tithe. So the way we determine our fun money amount is: total amount set aside to give to charity this month divided by 2. Then Abby and I each get that amount (roughly). This keeps me sane.

Then Christmas came. I got quite a bit of cash for Christmas. I was excited thinking, "I get to buy myself lots of stuff!" Then I read that article and it reminded me that Christmas is not my birthday and I will be accountable one day for the things I spend my money on. What a sobering thought.

For me, as I ponder all of this, what I think it means for me is that I need to find a worthy organization to be the recipient of some of my Christmas cash. But is that the answer or just a way to assuage my guilt?

To read the full article that started this mess:

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