“If you are not faithful with other people’s money,
why should you be trusted with money of your own?” (Luke 16:12)
Okay. So, just to remind you. I’m trusting the Lord to provide these questions in the order He chooses. When I drew this one from the cup, I thought “What??” Then it struck me. This is absolutely the best possible question for Day 2 of Lent.
You see, Lent has always involved more than prayer and fasting (the introspective). The Church has traditionally included a third important element — almsgiving (the extrospective).
Generosity has formed one of the historical pillars of Lent. In fact, money saved (by fasting) should be money given (to others). Even more, these random acts of generosity create a healthy flow in our lives. The Dead Sea is dead precisely because it has only inlets and no outlets.
This sunk home for me some years ago, when a good friend decided to fast from Starbucks coffee. Each morning he would stop and pick up a $3-4 drink on the way to work, and another one on Saturdays. In foregoing his coffee, he not only had a trigger for prayer each morning (and probably multiple times throughout each day as his body cried for the caffeine) but he also saved $20-25 a week. Then he realized that for just $30 a month he could sponsor a child out of poverty in another part of the world. This saving wasn’t for himself but for others.
In truth, stewardship lies at the heart of Christian discipleship. Our consumer culture would declare: “Get all you can; can all you get; and sit on the can!” But Christ calls us to stewardship and generosity. This keeps Lent from deteriorating into spiritual navel-gazing. Jesus calls us to be faithful with the resources God entrusts to us, to hold them loosely and share them liberally.
The technical term is distributive justice. Most of us would call it “sharing the blessing.”
I’m not writing about tithes and offerings to the church, but about (random) generosity with the poor or the suffering. If Lent opens up extra time, how will you donate it? If Lent provides extra money, how will you give it? Even more, if Lent provides no extra money, will we still seek to honor Christ by giving in special ways this season?
On this second day of Lent, perhaps this ancient question of Jesus has profound timeliness, positioning us for true spiritual growth by protecting us from looking only inward.
As we pour out, He tends to pour in. And therein lies abundance.
“If you are not faithful with other people’s money, why should you be trusted with money of your own?” (Luke 16:12)