Giving, Hoarding, Valuing

My wife recently read through something and sent this comment to myself and some of our friends:

Some of their results were surprising. Some 60 percent of the people they surveyed who live below the poverty line gave something, versus 32 percent of those above that line. A humbling finding by the authors was thus the radical giving of those who have very little in terms of money, time, or other resources to the immediate needs of those around them.

From the book: “We heard in the interviews where people who were really financially struggling, when they were not at work, they were babysitting for their friends so they could go to work,” Price says. “That’s precious work time that’s being given to others.

And while women as a whole tend to give more, married women give the most.”

From: “American Generosity: Who Gives and Why” by Patricia Herzog and Heather price

I recently re-tweeted a comment about where public funds go (re. ferris wheels, ice rinks and such) vs. caring for the least of these, the poor in our streets. I agreed. Most of the responses were quite positive and felt the same. One was about taxes and the involuntary “forced” giving demanded from government and the bro said he had a problem with that and also re. hard work to produce and build being incentive and reward for labor, all of which certainly holds elements of merit in my view. He had other positive statements re. the church and others voluntarily helping the poor as well. My response was:

“I’m the one with the problem: from prior to my own trusting in the Risen Jesus I find things in most every culture that seem better in line with (after my salvation and having studied) Jesus’ own example, as well as self-centered and destructive me-me-me attitudes and lifestyle choices.

My problem is that having found many indigenous societies with a view to stewardship of what God has given as opposed to ownership, control and domination… I would love a world where land and the wealth, flora and fauna were seen as gifts from God to be stewarded and indeed shared as opposed to effectively, weapons of dominion and indeed “I got mine, go get your own”. The good Samaritan.

I’m well aware of both Testaments proof texts, manifest destiny and colonization concepts none of which in my view, hold as closely to Jesus’ example nor for that matter, words in Matthew 25.

Control of land and the wealth of property therein has long been the political wealth-”might-makes-right” tool of despots right through human history. Frankly, I would have said all this 30 years ago if asked about it. Again, the problem is mine- we live in a world that doesn’t operate in humility, grateful thanks for the gifts of God and too often hearts that create borders for power and wealth hoarders. The world we live in now isn’t going there, and that’s indeed the reality of it.”

Castle

Having said this, working for justice, praying, demonstrating, marching, writing congresspersons and personally choosing a lifestyle (as Ron Sider so well said) at “the need level, not the greed level”, creative ideas to help meet real needs are viable and needed solutions. AND WHEN WE AS INDIVIDUALS AND CHURCHES DON’T MEET THE TRUE NEEDS THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD. That’s my position, has been from day 1 and isn’t changing because folks are mad or full of fear.

So how does my wife’s quoted book info. link to my Facebook response re. land and such?

I am never surprised that those with little are often the most likely to share what they have with those in need. Why? They understand the depth of need, loss, illness, pain and struggle of every day life, sometimes right to the very survival level having themselves faced or even at present, facing it. Empathy is natural to them. The same applies to Mom’s with kids. They -get- the issues, the needs, and the practical acting in love to help meet other Mom’s with children.

Empathy, kindness? Consider rural areas where complete strangers wave as they pass, where someone who seems to have car trouble is asked by a passing motorist “Hey, are you o.k., can I help you? Got a mobile phone?” They do it in part by culture… but in part knowing it could be them or someone they love with engine trouble or who slid in a ditch after a snow storm… next time it could be them, perhaps WAS them last season. I get it.

I wonder when more of our “That’s MINE!!!” people will figure out sharing is quite a link to the very heart of Jesus Christ? He gave for those completely UNworthy -I include myself as the often shocked recipient of His gift and gifts! HIS value was not in land, possessions, nor power (all this and more He has without limit!). He VALUES PEOPLE.

Things to think about as we go about our Christmas giving?

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

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