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Friday, April 2, 2010

PHILANTHROPY

“For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”

~1 Chronicles 29:14b (NRSV).

Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson are renowned philanthropists. Their love of humanity is tangible in the wealth they distribute, joyously in Branson’s case, over the causes they see requiring their “humble” assistance.

And yet, though we’re not billionaires, we’re all in a position for being generous and showing random acts of kindness.

Augustine, indeed, suggested that if we withheld that surplus we have, certainly this is as much theft as an omission is a lie.[1] As the biblical quote attests, we have what we have—all of it—‘on loan,’ as it were, from God.

Furthermore, we’re forgiven for forgetting that philanthropy is not simply about the possessions, wealth, time and energy we can give—it’s also most fundamentally about the grace we extend and the forgiveness we give out in the living of our lives. Forgiveness is probably the greatest love—the love of the second, and seventy-seventh, chance.

A great living truth is realised in the giving:

We cannot lose what we give away.

We receive back sheave-loads in return, and in such strange and consistent ways, when we give cheerfully, for we in the instant realise what was indeed given so freely to us was not “ours” in the first place (i.e. it was never ours to withhold)—and we’re no more deserving that the person we choose to give to.

When in the moment we bridge the cusp of our scared hearts and give away in obedience to the spirit of generosity (which comes from God), we commence a string of redeeming action that spins back at us.

The serendipity of this arrangement is alluring. We find the miracle of love manifested seeks to outdo itself—that’s love’s nature.

And in this, we see the potential of humankind—the very best showcased for the pleasure of all involved. One gift given highlights opportunities for a return measure.

We’re all philanthropists. We each have something to give away, whether it’s a cup of cold water or a calling that quenches a nation—and the infinite acts between. All are equally significant, for all acts of love of humanity are rooted and built up in God and his fundamental wisdom for right living.

Give yourself away. You’ll never be more thankful.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.




[1] Thomas C. Oden, The Good Works Reader – Classic Christian Readers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007), p. 300.

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