Givers Never Lack!
Life would have been so simple and easy if the above expression is taken seriously and the scourge of poverty would have been checked, reduced or eradicated. Notice, God in His generosity and mercy has blessed the world with abundant resources to make life meaningful but we have become and remained blindfolded to the common good of others; so we accumulate and hoard instead of distributing or sharing the God given resources at our disposal. The outcome is poverty, unemployment, untold hardship, injustice, violence, war, environmental pollution, a wide gap between the rich and the poor. Obviously, selfishness and greed has over thrown the culture of sharing. Could this be a negligence of the power of the Word of God? Because the scripture is very clear about the subject matter of giving and receiving. For instance, it says, “Give and it will be given to you. A full measure pressed down, shaken together will be poured into your laps” (Lk. 6:38).
THE CHALLENGES BEFORE US
The big question is: why is it difficult for us to give? Why do people complain and give grudgingly when the church or those in need calls for donations or contributions towards the fulfillment of a charitable course? There are those who refuse to give and discourage others from doing it; do they know that they are hindering the flow of God’s generosity onto themselves and others who lack a strong willpower to give? Do we need to have surplus before we give? If that is the yardstick for giving then the rich in our world would have been the most generous beings but they are not! So, what is debilitating us from exercising this truth of life? This write-up is preoccupied with the intent of unraveling the reasons for poor giving attitude and why we should be bent on giving in order to reap a successful life.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GIVING
The attitude of giving is demonstrated by being sensitive to the plight of people and responding accordingly, by paying tithe as a sign of appreciation for the gift of work and the proceed that accrue from it (Mal. 3:10), by contributing and donating generously during harvest and bazaar programmes, by making an offering during the celebration of Holy Mass, by being responsive to the needs of the less privileged and the downtrodden, by sowing seed in order to be part of the actualization of developmental projects and programmes, by contributing to the upkeep of orphanages/motherless babies homes, prisons, and hospitals just to mention a few. Archbishop Fulton Sheen captures the subject matter of giving in the light that giving should also embrace the shouldering of “Burdens of others…” These burdens are to be our concern whether they are burdens of want, burdens of ignorance, burdens of care, burdens of doubt or burdens of sin.
The simple and motivating truth about giving is: to give is to receive. Do you want to unlock the door to infinite riches? The rule is this: give from your need, from what you have and not from your abundance or wait to get plenty before you give. You may never get the plenty you are longing and waiting for! As you make up your mind to give with open hands, so the ultimate giver of gifts refills the vacuum created out of your generosity – for He cannot be outdone in generosity. Therefore, give what you have of your – time, money, smiles, love, compliments, anything that is good and makes life worth living. According to Mother Teresa, true giving entails giving until it hurts you. You must deprive yourself of something in order to give otherwise it is not giving in the true sense of generosity/charity.
According to Anthony Destefano in his book, Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To, “The law of giving and receiving is as immutable as the law of gravity. It must work (because God can never be outdone in generosity)… When it comes to bestowing blessings, God will not allow a human being to do more than he does. When it comes to being generous, God simply will not consent to being upstaged.” Hence, the Bible says, “Whoever gives to the poor lends to the Lord. Be assured He will repay” (Pro. 19:17); “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones… I tell you in truth, he will certainly not lose his reward” (Mt 10:42); “Blessed is he who helps the poor. The Lord delivers them from their troubles; he will protect them and keep them alive. He will bless them in the land… will sustain them when they are sick, and restore them from illness” (Ps. 41:1-3). “Remember: the one who sows meagerly will reap meagerly, and there shall be generous harvests for the one who sows generously. Each of you should give as you decided personally, and not reluctantly as if obliged. God loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor. 9:6-7). Furthermore, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). So, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” (Matt. 10:8).
Again, giving is a virtue that builds a veritable and lasting legacy about a person. Today the world remembers Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Apostles and Saints, Mahatma Gandhi, Bill Gates, Sam Walton, John Rockefeller and a host of other generous fellows for their demonstration of the virtue of generosity by self-giving (Jesus Christ), or by co-operation with divine plans (the Blessed Virgin Mary), time, money, care, talent, et al. What will you be remembered for: as a selfless giver or as a selfish beggar? Accordingly, Winston Churchill states, “You make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give.” Giving also is a form of penance or a means of atonement for our sins as Scripture says, “Above all, let your love for one another be sincere, for love (charity or giving) covers a multitude of sins” (1Pt. 4:8). More so, giving is a principal virtue taught and encouraged by religions such as Judaism and Islam. As Christians, our Holy Writ tells us to give and give and give. It says, “Become rich in every way, and give abundantly. What you give will become, through us, a thanksgiving to God” (2Cor. 9:11).
WHY PEOPLE FALL SHORT OF GIVING
It is glaringly obvious that the virtue of giving contributes so much in making life worth living and it changes the lives of people or adds meaning to people’s lives. Then why are people reluctant to give? Why do they find it hard to give? There are many factors impeding the spirit of giving. They include our inherent selfish nature, fear of deprivation, uncertainty of the future, and ignorance of the reward associated with the act of giving.
PROPER ATTITUDE OF GIVING
Even though we have extensively unveiled the necessity and the benefits that results in the act of giving, it is pertinent to note that we must give with and in the right attitude or understanding. Jesus says, “If you give something to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift remains really secret. Your Father, who sees what is kept secret, will reward you” (Mt. 6:3-4). It means that giving should not be done in order to pride ourselves; it should not be done or seen as a quasi-investment strategy and it should not be done with the intention of reaping the result immediately, that is, it should never be exercised mechanically or understood to yield magically. Moreover, we should not in the name of generosity deprive our families of their basic needs. It follows that our God-given responsibilities should be taken care of first and adequately, for charity begins at home. Nevertheless, we should not neglect the needs of the needy and strangers, and as such we can shoulder both responsibilities. So, the proper mindset that should govern our spirit of giving is “purity of intention.” This calls for understanding the essence of giving as a prayer and avoiding the pretence to be generous. After all, St. Paul asks, what have you that you were not given?
In conclusion, it is true that even the life we live is a gift and what we make out of it is a gift we return to God its chief giver. Part of what we return to God as appreciation for the gift of life is our ability to touch the lives of others. More so, giving enables us to test our sense of charity and charity (love in action) is the only virtue that will be practiced both here on earth and when we get to heaven. So, let us cultivate the ability to give and if we are already at home with the virtue of giving please let us maintain it in order to transform the lives of our people and live as human beings.
Fr. JOHN-MARY ATEP