Today I have on my mind how easy it is to confuse having wisdom about money with being callous and cold-hearted. I will just jump straight to my example - it is a story about my youngest daughter. She was probably 10 years old at the time. A friend of hers was participating in a jump-rope-a-thon fundraiser at her school to raise money for some sort of charity. My daughter's friend asked her if she would want to donate money to the cause (I don't recall exactly what it was). My daughter came home, checked her piggy bank, went to school the next day, and told her friend that she would pledge $10. It wasn't until that night that I learned about any of this. I tucked her into bed, and was just about to turn off the light when she popped back up: "oh, by the way, I have to bring $10 to school tomorrow." "Why?" "I pledged it to my friend for the jump-rope-a-thon."...........this is me taking a long pause and wondering how I should proceed........It has always been important to me that my children be compassionate, charitable, and generous. But, in that moment I realized that I had forgotten something - wisdom. I asked her how much money she had in her piggy bank. As a 10-year-old it wasn't much more than $10. I had to then explain to her that, "while it was really thoughtful of you to make a pledge, do you realize you will then have almost no money?" I know that to my daughter, again, as a 10-year-old, this probably sounded to her like I didn't want her to give her money to help others, but that instead I wanted her to keep it for herself, which I am sure she would think sounded like a contradiction to other lessons she's heard from me. So, I had to break it down for her. I explained to her that it wasn't the idea of her giving money to a good cause, it was the idea of how MUCH of her money she was giving in ONE moment. I explained that by giving almost all of her money to THIS particular cause, there would be virtually none left for anything else, for her to use on something she may have been saving up for, or even to donate to another cause that could come up next week or next month. I told her she could take the money this time, but that she needs to think this through next time.
If I had only told you that I did not approve of my daughter's $10 pledge to a charity, on the surface that might sound cold-hearted. But, when you use wisdom to dig deeper into the "why", it becomes more reasonable to take a pause regarding how much to give, and when, and to whom.
Now, if you are a church-goer, you might be wondering, "what about the widow who gave 'all she had.'?" Well, this is the deal with that story - as with any account in scripture, context is everything. What was the context in which Jesus lifted her up as an example of how to act? It was in the midst of a confrontation with the Pharisees. They were hoarding most of their wealth, and taking advantage of others. But, to the public eye, they were doing everything they could to make it LOOK like they were noble and pure and helping people. But, they weren't. And Jesus knew it. They wanted people to THINK they were giving great amounts of their wealth to help the poor, but they weren't. Jesus knew that they were only doing what they were doing 'for show', so that people would 'admire them for their generosity'. And that is when Jesus held up the example of the poor widow, in order to shame the Pharisees.
What Jesus WAS NOT doing was giving a lesson on stewardship. He did that in a different place in scripture. From the gospel of Luke: "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?" Luke 14:28. That is the kind of wisdom Jesus wants us to employ when we are deciding how to use our resources, not just money, but also time, energy, anything that we "spend" or "use up". Jesus would want us to count the cost to make sure we are able to be everything Jesus has created us to be.
Have a great day, my friends!