What conditions do we set for our own generosity?
Only if I get something in return. Only when I know they will be responsible with the gift. Only if it isn’t inconvenient for myself or my family. I’ll give money, but I don’t have any spare time to donate.
Keller (2010) quotes Psalm 41:1 which says ““Blessed is the man who considers the poor.” Translating the word “considers” from Hebrew carries a sense of “sustained attention.” In other words, not just a ‘hand-out peace-out’ kind of generosity, but a genuine care for those in unfortunate circumstances. This generosity calls for discernment, but not judgement. We are to be good stewards of the resources we’ve been placed in charge of, but we must obey the Master’s wishes in regards to the distribution of His resources.
There are plenty of passages throughout the Bible that speak to generosity and justice for the poor. A familiar verse is Luke 14:13-14, “when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” Considering that Jesus equates Himself with the hungry, the stranger, the sick, and the imprisoned as objects of our generosity, then if we are to minister to Him, we can do it by comforting His creatures (Matthew 25).
Yet, we ask, exactly how much should we be giving? C.S. Lewis (1960) had something to say about generosity in his book, Mere Christianity. He advised,
“If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them” (Lewis, 1960).
Remembering what Jesus went through to save our souls, I think we ought to be willing to suffer even more than just inconvenience when He asks it of us in order to care for the poor.
- Burns, James MacGregor (2007-12-01). Transforming Leadership. Grove/Atlantic, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
- Keller, Timothy (2010-11-02). Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
- Lewis, C. S. (1960). Mere Christianity, rev. ed.