When you see people in need around you, beware of hardening your heart and thinking of reasons not to give. And, be prepared to give more than you had planned to! We have all survived spending more than we had planned to on eating out or buying things for ourselves, and there’s no reason why we should not occasionally overshoot our plans for being generous. May our generous God help us to grow in generosity.
Generosity is difficult. It doesn’t take much physical effort—just a few clicks on your smartphone or just a few notes from your wallet—but it feels unnatural to give away money and receive nothing in return. We find it easy to buy things for our family, to invest money, or even to give money to people who say they will pay us back, but for most of us it is a struggle to be generous. The reason for this is that we are self-centred beings. We are so aware of our needs and our desires that we channel our resources to fulfil these. At times we spend unwisely (to varying degrees for different people), and perhaps most of the time we have good reasons for spending our money the way that we do. And usually, by the time we spread out our wealth, there is nothing left to give away to those who are in need. Even when we want to be generous, we promise ourselves that we will open our hands when we have more. But when God gives us more, it seems like we always have more ways to spend.
Being generous is difficult at the best of times, and seems impossible when we are faced with problems in our lives. We become even more inward-looking and almost become blind to the needs around us. We saw this at the beginning of lockdown in our country in March 2020. When the nationwide lockdown was announced, we flocked to shops, and motivated by concern for ourselves and our families, we tried to buy as much groceries as possible, which would last us for several weeks and months. At the same time, we were blind to the reality that several of our poorer brothers and sisters were bracing themselves for the uncertain days that lay before them. In the months that followed, many lost their jobs and struggled to feed their families and pay rent.
In writing this article it is not my intention to make us all feel guilty, but to encourage us all to think about our lives and to grow in this often-neglected area. Here’s what our Lord taught us about how to relate to wealth: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21). In the economy of the kingdom of God, the way to grow truly wealthy is not by collecting money and possessions, but by giving away.