Saturday, March 18, 2017

Lent: Clinging or Giving?

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
            -2 Corinthians 9:6-7
Giving to those in need has always been a central practice of Lent. Referred to as “giving alms,” it helps to meet the need of the poor, the homeless, and those without work.
Nothing is as “worldly” as money. Materialism of today’s culture is based on a money economy. Yet, ironically, few things are as spiritual as what we do with our money.
Giving—or more precisely, our reluctance to give—exposes the clinging in our hearts. Certainly we must be wise and keep a certain reserve of finances. Yet, under the guise of wisdom, we can easily slip into hoarding. Proverbs 11:24, however, exposes the folly of hording: “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want” (esv).
Like fasting and prayer, the Lenten discipline of giving helps us to grow spiritually by shedding light on some hidden, even dark, places within. We are all called to give to that there be greater equity for those who have less. “See that you excel in the grace of giving,” writes Paul. “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality” (2 Corinthians 8:7, 13).
Jesus assumes that all his followers will be giving alms. He just commands us not to do so in order to receive recognition. Again, our inner attitudes are so often exposed by what we do with the resources that have been given us.
“When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing.” (Matthew 6:2-3, nabre)
If I am to grow deeper in God during Lent, I need to do more than pray and fast. Giving puts legs on my prayer and devotion. It exposes any clinging to material things that resides in my heart. Then—if I give with a joyful heart—it sets me free to experience joy, friendship and fresh spiritual life!
© 2016 Glenn E. Myers
For Lent the church has always emphasized fasting, prayer and giving alms. See Matthew 6: 2,6,17, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets . . . when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen . . . when you fast. . . .”

No comments:

Post a Comment