Earlier this week I was thinking of the adage “give til it hurts”. I am generous with time, talent, and money and rarely give it a thought of how much I give. I try to live by the words “there is always enough to share, no matter how little you have”. Remember Mark 12:44?
As it turns out, this was a week for several people I know who were considering helping other people. One blogger wrote of passing a woman on the street, pushing a cart with a “spare change” cup at the front. She had passed the woman and then went to catch up to offer her money, which the woman refused. To the writer, she had thought she was sharing what she had even though she has minimal herself.
A couple of days after, another blog related the story of a woman named Ellen who had come to his church for help in finding food and a place to stay. He wrote of coming upon this woman and becoming acutely aware of the things he had that perhaps were superfluous compared to the woman’s needs.
The next day a blogger wrote a poignant post “When Someone Needs You Right Now” about helping a father in distress and his son who needed immediate help. The writer dialed 911 on her phone with no forethought. She did what needed done without question of consequence to herself and then stepped back.
How much one gives is personal. How well we receive giving is also personal.
These blogs fed into my thinking about what “giving til it hurts” really means. I have concluded, if it hurts, you’re doing it all wrong. Perhaps you have the wrong motivation. Maybe you feel guilty about what you have when someone else has less. Maybe you give out of a feeling of superiority. Perhaps you give less than what you could because you are judging the receiver.
Whatever the reason, I think rationalizing the giving stops us from giving as much as we can. Too often the moment is gone by the time we think it through. And if we try to help someone and are refused, perhaps, it is God who is questioning our motivation. Or maybe simply the act of offering is enough.
I believe that if we give freely from the heart, instead of the head, we do not suffer guilt, and we are not harmed by giving. Indeed, blessings come back to us often too many to count. Further, there is no reason to give someone something such as food, and then question what they did with that food. Most of us have what we need and no one questions our worthiness.
Mark 12:44. The woman in the story gave freely and without forethought, right to the last of her own resources. If more of us did this, how many more would be helped. Not the part about giving to the last of our resources, but the part about giving freely and without guilt or expectation.
If we did this, “giving til it hurts” would indeed be impossible, because we would never be conscious of what we have given, but only that we perhaps made a difference. And that is all that is required.