1416) Finally Rich Enough to Be Generous

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From No Greater Love, by Mother Teresa, 1997:

     One night a man came to our house and told me, “There is a family with eight children.  They have not eaten for days.”  I took some food with me and went.

     When I finally came to that family, I saw the faces of those little children disfigured by hunger.  There was no sorrow or sadness in their faces, just the deep pain of hunger.  I gave the rice to the mother.  She divided the rice in two, and went out, carrying half the rice.  When she came back, I asked her, “Where did you go?”  She gave me this simple answer, “To my neighbors; they are hungry also!”

     I was not surprised that she gave, because poor people are often very generous.  But I was surprised that she knew they were hungry.  As a rule, when we are suffering, we are so focused on ourselves we have no time for others. 

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     An old man showed up at the back door of the house we were renting.  Opening the door a few cautious inches, we saw his eyes were glassy and his furrowed face glistened with silver stubble.  He clutched a wicker basket holding a few unappealing vegetables.  He bid us good morning and offered his produce for sale.  We were uneasy enough to make a quick purchase to alleviate both our pity and our fear.

     To our chagrin, he returned the next week, introducing himself as Mr. Roth, the man who lived in the shack down the road.  As our fears subsided, we got close enough to realize that it wasn’t alcohol, but cataracts, that marbleized his eyes.  On subsequent visits, he would shuffle in, wearing shabby old clothes and two mismatched right shoes, and pull out a harmonica.  With glazed eyes set on a future glory, he’d puff out old gospel tunes between conversations about vegetables and religion.

     On one visit, he exclaimed, “The Lord is so good!  I came out of my shack this morning and found a bag full of shoes and clothing on my porch.”    

    “That’s wonderful, Mr. Roth,” we said.  “We’re happy for you.” 

     “You know what’s even more wonderful?” he asked.  “Just yesterday I met some people that could use them.”     –Author unknown 

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Proverbs 11:25  —  A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. 

Proverbs 19:17  —  He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.

Luke 12:48b  —  From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. 

Luke 21:1-4  —  As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

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Guide us, teach us, and strengthen us, O Lord we beseech thee, until we become such as thou wouldst have us be: pure, gentle, truthful, high-minded, courteous, generous, able, dutiful, and useful; for thy honor and glory. Amen.

–Charles Kingsley

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