Money can be something of a conundrum in the Christian life, particularly as one part of the world has vast wealth, the other vast poverty and the gap is seemingly ever widening. Add to this the ‘natural’ tendency towards selfishness and a hostile economic system which encourages a posture of self-preservation; there will be a conflict between compassion and the fear of being irresponsible and winding up in want.
As in all things though, the Gospel turns this issue on its head and points towards eternity “Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Furthermore, it encourages us to not be afraid.
There are good examples to be found in this area; one grandmother I met years ago was given a large gift by her children and grandchildren so she could have the trip of a lifetime. She had never been abroad and after her many years of selfless service and kindness to her family they wanted her to have something special. This was in the mid-nineties at the tail end of the war in Bosnia and the beginning of the genocide in Rwanda. And she gave this gift to the refugees from these two conflicts instead of treating herself. I imagine she is reaping the reward of a lifetime of such acts now.
Another I heard of is a schoolboy who on hearing about the work of a charity in Africa that provides one meal a day for children so they can attend school every day, decided to forgo his birthday and Christmas presents and instead give what would have been spent to enable these children to be fed and get an education. He continued in this discipline year after year and later became a fundraiser to add to this wonderful legacy.
Sacrifice is no longer sacrifice when it is done in love, it is joy to the giver and life to the recipient.