Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Vice President at Family Research Council. This article appeared in Religion Today on January 6, 2014.
We Americans like to spend money. A lot of it. Of course, much if not most of what we spend is on daily and long-term needs. But not all of it. Here are a few examples:
- "Consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has predicted that global spending for media and entertainment will reach $2.2 trillion in 2017, compared with $1.6 trillion in 2012. The U.S. is expected to remain the largest media market, with spending increasing 4.8 percent annually to reach $632 billion in 2017, up from the nearly $500 billion spent last year."
- "The global market for fragrances and perfumes is forecast to reach over $33 billion by the year 2015, driven by growing trend towards consumer urbanization, higher spending propensity and heightened importance of personal appearance and grooming."
- According to the U.S. Travel Association, Americans spent nearly $600 billion on leisure travel in 2012.
This is disconcerting, to say the least. Each day in the United States, more than 3,000 women are victimized by the abortion industry, their unborn children excised as if little more than unwelcome tumors. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 900 million persons out of an approximate global population of seven billion are hungry. It is estimated that "at least eight million die every year of hunger-related diarrhea, pneumonia and other illnesses - more than succumb to AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. A child dies of hunger every 11 seconds."
I decidedly am not suggesting we ban the sale of fragrances, stop going to movies, or quit taking vacations. Christians should not be so abstemious about the simple enjoyments of life that we feel guilty every time we buy ice cream cones, go to baseball games, or take a couple of weeks off. Recreation, rest, and the pleasure of life's many blessings are all honorable and needed elements of our lives.
Rather, we need a sense of perspective and proportion. Instead of feting ourselves quite so much, can we not sacrifice a bit more and thereby more effectively advance the spread of the Gospel, rescue the vulnerable, and help the poor and grossly underserved?
Jesus told His disciples they were worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31). Only of man is God so concerned with us that He has numbered the hairs on our heads even as He has numbered the stars in the sky (Luke 12:7, Psalm 147:4). Are we sufficiently investing our lives in the three things that last eternally - God, His Word, and people?
Jesus also said that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). As 2014 begins, perhaps some of us (me included) could look a bit more closely at our credit receipts and check ledgers to give closer scrutiny to the location of our hearts in the New Year.