This week, I spent a little time reflecting on the following passage in Proverbs:
He who oppresses the poor reproaches his maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him (Proverbs 14.31).
This led to 1 John 3:17. But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in Him.
No matter how I turned the phrase, the truth of it boils down to this: if the love of God dwells in us, we live generously. We respond with gracious giving. The needy (no matter the reason of their need...whether its because of wise choices or otherwise) are taken care of - by me. Now, I'm not responsible for all the needy in the world, nor am I responsible for all their needs. However, the point is I help where I can among those who are in my world.
But, I don't. Something I know about me is that I ignore things that are hard to deal with emotionally. I don't deal well with my own pain, let alone someone else's. So, what I don't like, I avoid. My city is filled with hurting, needy people. My life is comfortable. I have food in the fridge. Clothes in the closet. Shoes. Stuff. A house full of stuff. If the love of the Lord is in me, well, I share with those in need. Why, then, don't I? What is the real reason?
As I asked that question, I remembered another passage about the children of God bringing gifts to God to be used on his behalf for his glory. The Word says they gave out of their abundance. Abundance? These were folks who lived very simple lives. These were people who paid huge taxes. These were people who lived during the worst of times economically. These were people who barely got by, but they saw themselves as having ABUNDANCE.
This speaks to the cure for my problem...gratitude/thanksgiving (eucharisteo). Here's how I know. The more I focus on what I have and respond to it all with a heart of thanksgiving, the more I realize I DO HAVE. My focus isn't on what I lack, it's on my abundance. Out of my abundance, then, I want to give. Out of my abundance, I learn generosity. Out of my abundance and thanksgiving, I allow the love of the Lord to cast out my fear of facing someone else’s pain, and, consequently, I am free to become the hands and feet of Jesus.
The cure to a lack of giving is gratitude. Plain and simple.