These are two well known New Testament stories about generosity. In Mark 12 a widow is commended by Jesus for her giving and is comparing her to others who gave more, but the widow gave all that she had. While Jesus teaches in the countryside, the disciples are gathering food for the people to eat. All they come up with is a boy’s lunch – 5 loaves and 2 fish. Jesus uses this offering to perform a miracle and is able to feed the multitude. We don’t know the economic situation of the boy, but we assume he gave generously as well – his whole lunch!
We know that the Lord cares about generosity, He looks at our hearts and motivations for giving.
2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
We also know that the Lord cares very much for the poor, and wants His people to take care of those in need.
Proverbs 14:31 Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
Proverbs 28:27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
1 John 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
And yet, giving can still be a struggle. Many of us give to the food drive or for Thanksgiving baskets at CCF, to Operation Christmas Child and to Angel Tree. There are community opportunities as well that benefit from our generosity. These are wonderful options! However, sometimes we might be reluctant to go deeper.
More than an occasional gift or basket of food – people need sustained, ongoing help.
- Higher education and job training
- Safe, affordable housing
- A living wage
- A pathway to citizenship
These things are often vital for helping people lift out of poverty but it also means that as believers we need to be willing to go deeper. Giving not out of our surplus but maybe impacting our own income. I don’t know a lot about the economics of what it will take people to have a real chance to live a more financially stable life, but based on what I know about God and His heart for people, I do believe these are topics He cares about.
I think sometimes we are reluctant to help others because we are afraid. Afraid that somehow there won’t be enough for me, for my family, for my children. That somehow there is only a certain amount of resources, that we might run out if we or our country helps others in need. If we help them – the immigrant, the single parent, the unemployed, will there be enough for me as well? Will they take my job? Raise my taxes? These are big questions and concerns. But we need to trust that the Lord who owns it all, who is good, kind and generous will take care of us even as we take care of others – just like the widow with the 2 coins and the boy with his lunch.
Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.