Should we feel guilty for having much? My daughter has practiced medicine in third world countries; her photos have had a sobering impact on me. I’ll try to describe just a couple of those images.
The sky is overcast and bright. There in the foreground is a tattered red couch. Garbage surrounds that lone piece of furniture, trash fills the background all the way to the horizon. Upon that sofa, huddled together, are a girl perhaps four years old, a boy maybe six, and a brown and white puppy. Somewhere nearby, not shown, is their tiny landfill home, cardboard, with plastic tarp. Homeless and orphaned children are rounded up and placed here, it’s a safe place compared to living on the streets in a city with more than nine million. Their daily routine consists of picking through trash, salvaging cardboard, metal and ‘valuables’ which can be sold in a nearby shantytown; the money received is exchanged for food.
My doctor daughter’s other photo is from travels which she and her OBGYN husband, along with their children, make to New Guinea. Their volunteer work takes them to a hospital compound, surrounded by jungle, no grocery stores, but local produce. One must not leave a “banana stem” hanging overnight on the porch, giant fruit bats will swoop in and consume all 100 pounds of the yellow fruit before winging into the dark night.
Her New Guinea photo is an interior shot. The sooty walls are of cinder blocks and sheet metal. In the room’s center is a makeshift fire pit for spit-roasting. Off in a corner stands a simple sink. A small picnic table allows sitting. This is the hospital kitchen. If you are fortunate enough to have your family member admitted for medical treatment, you must use these kitchen facilities to prepare food with which you will feed the sick patient. Also you must bring along sheets for their hospital bed and you must maintain their cleanliness.
Back to the question, “Should we feel guilty because we have so much while a lot of the world resides in apparent poverty? No we should use our abundance to generously bless others. God’s Word the Bible provides this rich insight: “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV).
Use what we have, little or much, to be generous. You will be blessed and those you help, who are in need, will give thanks to God.
Guilt, I believe, usually comes from the dark side. The Lord Jesus taught that: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV). So why would I choose to let “the thief” take away my joy by using guilt or his other tools—fear, shame and control? For followers of the Lord, Jesus is the Truth that sets us free. He promises life, “to the full,” for all who come to Him, believing that He died for our sins setting us free from guilt and our generous sharing results in Thanksgiving to God.