“A generous person will be enriched,
and one who gives water will get water.”
— Proverbs 11:25 (NRSV)
“Those who are generous are blessed,
for they share their bread with the poor.”
— Proverbs 22:9 (NRSV)
Sitting in my office at work recently, enjoying a brief glimpse at the harbour view, God asked me to count the objects on my desk: 31. Thirty-one tools of the trade, some of which are essential for doing my job; some others just make it easier.
The simple fact is, by position and provision, I am mightily blessed. And when we consider our Western lives—presuming the majority reading this are blessed, like me, in their comparative westernised richness—including those in the East, or wherever, who live like modern Westerners—we have little to want for from a material perspective.
No one blessed in such ways deserves it more than someone who isn’t so blessed—born in less fortunate circumstances, perhaps in a poorer country or without the family or support structure many of us take for granted.
There are not too many comparisons we might make that are healthy; comparing ourselves with others, for instance, is a recipe for envy. But one good comparison to make is our blessedness with others’ relative paucity.
That sort of comparison is, it could be said, not limited to financial or material means; it extends into all circles of life. But material blessing is in present sight.
The motive for such a comparison is genuine compassion, for there is much neediness in the world and so much rank wealth—the distance between the two (relative rich and relative poor) would be hard to parallel.
When Is Enough, Enough?
The nature of accumulation is to gain more and more. How much relative wealth is too much relative wealth? Again, comparatively speaking, though the vast majority of us are nowhere near millionaires, we might still have more than we need.
When we accumulate more and more, redefining with growing blessing our level of comfort, there comes a point where that material blessing has our spiritual blessing ebbing away. The material blessing is a test; where we have enough, can we give some away?
A miraculous thing happens when we start to give away what we don’t need—and the limits of need are much lower than most of us readily contemplate. Not only are we freed of much clutter—mental, emotional and spiritual—we get to feel how God feels, as a sort of provider.
The best thing about such generosity is the desire grows according to the blessings of God that are felt; we quickly realise nothing, not any wealth on this earth, can touch us like God touches us when we act these ways.
The responsibility for generosity is a role for the comparative wealthy; that’s most of us. Everyone has something to share. Nothing can produce happiness like making someone else happy through the kindness of generosity.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.