middot generosity daily living generosity as stewardship

generosity as stewardship

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-mudprintOne of my favorite jokes is a story of a group of scientists who, convinced that they don’t need God anymore, proceed to attempt to prove it by making a human being out of the dirt (like he made the first). They do quite well and God decides to let them know how nice of a job they did but, to be fair, if they really wanted to prove they didn’t need him anymore they should get their own dirt!

Do we really own anything? Yes we work hard for our pay, buy things, sell things, etc. Capitalism is far from functional if we don’t have a respect for ownership and commerce. Still if we look objectively at the world and our very lives everything belongs to God. Generosity takes on a whole dimension of meaning when we realize that we are stewards of gifts given to us. In a world where millions die of starvation I haven’t earned the right to have a full belly more than anyone else. In a country where unemployment is still so ubiquitous I don’t necessarily deserve a job more than anyone else. I have worked hard, but mostly I am blessed through no particular superiority over anyone else. For me the choice to be generous is intimately connected to the belief in, and love of God. God has been so generous to me. God demonstrated his generosity in teaching, works, life, death, and resurrection of Yeshua. If it is God’s desire that we be conformed into the image of Messiah Yeshua then generosity ought to be basic.

In times when resources seem limited, it can be scary to be generous. No one wants to be a fool who gives away what is needed for one’s survival. Nevertheless, Scripture puts an emphasis on those who give generously as being right with God and in line with his will. How can we lose what was never meant only for us anyway? When it seems scary to give, we would all do well to think of God who is the true owner of all, and who is the model of generosity.

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