How people view their spending is all relative to what money they have. This morning, I brewed a cup of Ethiopian Harrar coffee. It is one of the most sought-after coffees in the world and is considered very expensive to purchase by the pound. But if you brew it at home it only costs about 5¢ per cup. Cheap, you say. Yes, but 5¢ will provide a whole meal for one hungry child in Uganda, Zambia or Malawi.
Recently, at London airport on the way to Uganda, I noticed a small container (200 grams) of Beluga Caviar in a shop window for the astounding price of nearly $1000! Yes, $1000 for 30 servings of fish eggs on a cracker!
In a magazine I noticed the prices of some suites available in famous hotels in San Francisco. The nightly rate is $3000 at the Mandarin Oriental, $4250 at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel and $5700 at the Four Seasons Hotel.
What really amazed me, though, was the cost of $10,000 per night for the Penthouse Suite at the Fairmont San Francisco. Seven nights for $70,000! This amount would provide compassionate care to over 25,000 people in some parts of the world.
We can criticise the way others spend their money, but I need to ask myself, ‘How do I use the funds that God has given me? Do I use them for his glory?’ Earlier, I mentioned my cup of coffee for 5¢. I could feed a child in a refugee camp, or in a church-based community school, or an orphanage, one meal every day for one month for only $1.50! A naked child can be clothed for only $1.
Last Christmas in Uganda we sought to reach nearly 30,000 people with the gospel and compassionate care in special evangelistic outreaches to the extremely poor. We provided a gift, a nice meal, and presented the gospel of Jesus Christ. The average cost per person was only $2.50. For the same amount you can clothe and feed a child in Africa for a whole month.
So, we can criticise the ‘yuppies’ and the ‘rich’ – not to mention the ‘celebrities’ prepared to pay up to $10,000 per night for a hotel suite. But, as Christians, what are we doing with our $2.50?
Yes, we can buy a cup of coffee or Mocha, but let’s not neglect the needy of the world. ‘Pure and lasting religion in the sight of our God and Father is this – to visit [care for] orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world’ (James 1:27).