For many years I used to fantasized about winning the lottery – normally when the prize got over a hundred million dollars. (Like anything else would be a disappointment.) I used to dream what it would be like to have as much money as anyone could need to help all those poor souls out there who needed it. After setting up my family, of course, I could then spend each day figuring out ways to use the money to help all those people with any variety of problems that money could solve or at least help. So, I would wait expectantly, usually on a Sunday morning, to see the Powerball numbers and sadly realize that it was not to be. But, some day God would have me beat the odds because of my good intentions.
Then something happened. A friend told us there was this village right over the border that had no electricity, and that for something like $500, they could get the power lines one mile closer to the village. Coming from New York that blew my mind. Five-hundred dollars wouldn’t pay for the guy who you needed to hire to get the permit you would need to do the work. Then I found out that my friend’s aunt was helping these Mexican kids get through secondary and vocational school and it cost about the $400 for a full semester! It is amazing how living in the U.S and especially Scottsdale can warp your sense of what it takes to impact someone else’s life in a positive way…at least on a monetary level. Here I am thinking that I need to be a multi-millionaire to do something significant. It was probably a good excuse to do less than I actually could. And then I read this section out of Mere Christianity:
“…I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them…For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear-fear of insecurity. This must often be recognized as a temptation. Sometimes our pride also hinders our charity; we are tempted to spend more than we ought on the showy forms of generosity (tipping, hospitality) and less than we ought on those who really need our help…”
Bottom line is that even if we don’t agree with C.S. Lewis to ‘give until it hurts’, there are tremendous opportunities to give out of the excess God provides and change someone’s life for the better – we don’t need to be millionaires. Just ask the Phoenix Mission what they can do with $50 (serve 350 meals!), or ask UNICEF how many mosquito nets to battle malaria (8!), or doses of polio vaccine (88!). Fifty bucks – that’s two weeks of Starbucks…and there are a lot of lottery losers that can still find that money. Understand, it is not so much the scale of our giving as it is establishing the habit. So stop waiting for your ship to come in and do something – you’ll be amazed at how good it feels. (P.S. I don’t buy lottery tickets anymore.)
.(Go back and read the blog posted by Eddie Wetzel in October of 2012 – The Parable of the M&M – and understand it really does not take much to change a person’s life for the better.)