Why is it so hard to build a culture of kindness in an affluent society?
Sometimes it’s easy to offer help. Picking up an extra item or two at the store for the food pantry. Buying something you already need to support a fundraiser. But other times, probably the most important times, are when it costs us something. Watching or transporting a child for a friend. Making a meal for someone in need. Volunteering our time for a worthy cause. I know these are things I really want to do.
But sometimes in the day to day slog it’s scary to offer help. Because we’re afraid there just won’t be enough time, energy or money to go around. We build our lives around scarcity, especially if there was a time when we had to do without. So we do what we can but keep our level of commitment small. I find this really odd, because some of the most generous people I’ve ever known were not wealthy people. (Well, sometimes there were). But that’s kind of my point. Generosity, both with time, money and resources is not directly attached to income. Which means that it isn’t about having “enough” to share, but having an attitude of abundance. Years ago I heard a financial blogger talk about living with a scarcity mentality vs. an abundance mentality. He is not a spiritual person and yet he gets.
I serve the Almighty Provider, I should be able to give and know that my needs will always be met.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
If I really believe that, I need to live like it. My brothers and sisters with less in the way of material things are far ahead of me in this area. They have so little, yet they give with both hands. I am lucky enough to live in a country where systems are in place to protect me. Things like unemployment, social security and disability provide a safety net against disaster. (I realize these systems don’t always work as they should, but at least they exist). Yet, I don’t always give as I should. In the land of abundance I sometimes fall prey to living like there is a famine.
True generosity can be frightening, giving in our need rather than our excess. Offering up the things that cost us most. For some it is our money, but other times it is our time, our energy or even our love and friendship. Because we fear interdependency. It feels more secure to be alone and self-sufficient; to need no one and have no one need us. But that is not what we are called it. We need to be willing to give our money without worrying about tomorrow. Give our time without obsessing over our calendars. Give our energy without concern for potential burnout. Give our friendship expecting nothing in return. Give our love without fear of rejection.
Be generous today.