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Why is giving easier for the poor?

I remember walking up to a hut in Zambia, the first hut I ever visited, and meeting a dear elderly couple. Their son had returned from the city, and he was “sick” (he was dying of AIDS). We sat outside on seats made of scraps of wood that had been nailed together while our hosts, who were significantly older than us and deserving of OUR respect, sat on the ground. Then, they brought out a bowl full of ground nuts, a gift to us that greatly diminished their small wealth…

Just before New Years, I went to visit my friend, a refugee who makes next to nothing, works in a job that doesn’t come close to suiting her skills and talents, cares for her family and has the heart of a saint. I mentioned to her that I was feeling pretty sick and wouldn’t stay long, at which point she offered me some canned soup to take with me. I accepted. She then went to her pantry and proceeded to fill a grocery bag with soup and any other food that she thought I could use…

Why is it easier for the poor to give abundantly while we who are blessed with so much have to carefully consider how giving of our time, money, resources, and surplus will effect our comfort or whether or not we will be taken advantage of if we share? Perhaps those who have lost so much know well how to hold loosely to the things of this earth. Perhaps they know better than most of us* the joy of giving.

*Mind you, I know many among us wealthy people of the world (let us consider wealth as defined in comparison to the average wage of most people worldwide–under $1/day) who are very generous and who give with great joy. My own mom is one of those people. However, I have observed in myself and in the Church (particularly the American church) a tendency to rationalize and weigh heavily the personal cost of generosity in a way that is disturbing, in a way that robs us of the joy of giving and receiving with the love of Christ, with no fear of loss.

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