DAY 122: Wednesday 19 August
TRUE WEALTH AND GENEROSITY
A few years ago, I recall waiting near the supermarket checkout when a man began to pour loose coins into the machine in the entrance lobby. Initially, nobody really took much notice but after 15-20 seconds a few people began to stare as the man was still pouring coins out of his bag. 30 seconds on and the machine was still noisily counting, and I was beginning to wonder where had all this loose change come from. He appeared a perfectly respectable gentleman and I couldn’t imagine he had broken into his grandchildren’s piggy banks!
The episode reminded me of the occasion recorded in the Bible when Jesus was standing with others at the entrance to the Temple. Hundreds of worshippers were arriving and dropping money into the huge wooden offertory chests by the doors. Some would arrive and make great show of pouring in bags of heavy coins creating a great clatter. This was staged to impress onlookers and draw attention to their apparent great generosity!
But then Jesus spotted an insignificant figure quietly drop in 2 tiny coins, barely making any sound and practically worthless in value. This person was insignificant on two counts - she was a woman, so was considered inferior in status to that culture and society, and secondly she was a widow, often regarded on a par with beggars and the dregs of society. Yet Jesus not only notices this woman, but publicly praises her action which we can still read about 2000 years later. He knew the others were giving a fraction of their wealth, but she had given her last penny.
Jesus’ teachings frequently challenged accepted conventions of society and religion. Conventional wisdom measures wealth by how much we accumulate, and generosity is judged by how much we give. Over recent months the media has published interviews and videos of caring people who have raised large sums of money for the NHS and other deserving charities or made generous donations to needy causes.
Now when these stories encourage others to get practically involved or raise more money for charity, then that has to be good. But if the sole purpose of the publicity were only to brag how generous we are, then wouldn’t our motives be questionable?
Jesus’ teaching on wealth, generosity and greatness are the complete opposite of how society measures us. God’s view of generosity is not in how much you give, but by how much you keep back for yourself. Similarly, Jesus taught that to be considered great in the Kingdom of Heaven, we need to adopt a servant attitude: in the famous prayer of Ignatius of Loyola .... ‘to serve and not to ask for any reward’.
So the man at the coin machine in Sainsburys reminds me to re-examine my life and what drives and motivates me - how about you?
Matthew 6:1-4 - Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So, when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
These words of Jesus, from what we call the Sermon on the Mount, includes words that I regard as an appropriate motto for some church organists or keyboard players – ‘Let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing’.
Here’s a well-known Hymnalong for today >>> MAKE ME A CHANNEL OF YOUR PEACE
· Vera phoned to say she is continuing to improve, and the district nurse is now only having to visit twice a week instead of daily. Michael has returned to work this week so Vera is getting used to being in the house on her own which she says is preparing her for returning back home to Sutton.
· Mel saw a consultant yesterday who has prescribed a course of injections for her arthritis to be administered from Good Hope
· Following the recent rearranging of the Chapel storeroom, we now have surplus a couple of sturdy adjustable steel racking units ideal for garage storage. They measure 1250 x 640mm floor area and will support considerable weight so if you are interested in one or both, contact Wesley.
MAKE YOU SMILE:
- A Garden Funeral-
Mr Green peered over his fence and noticed that the neighbour’s little boy was in his back garden filling in a hole. Curious about what the youngster was up to, Mr Green asked, “What are you doing, Jimmy?”
Tearfully, little Jimmy replied, “My goldfish died, and I’ve just buried him.”
“That’s an awfully large hole for a goldfish, isn’t it?” Mr Green said.
Patting down the last bit of earth, the boy replied, “That’s because he’s in your cat!”
Words of wisdom: “There’s a fine line between a long, drawn-out sermon and a hostage situation.”
“I’m a millionaire,” the boastful parishioner testified, “and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life. I can still remember the turning point in my faith, like it was yesterday:
I had just earned my first £10 and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I had only the one ten-pound note and had to either give it all to God’s work or nothing at all. So in that moment I decided to give all I had to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today.”
The congregation politely applauded, and as he took his seat, one little old lady rose and said, “I dare you to do it again!”
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