As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
–1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV
I have seen deep poverty in many parts of the world, yet none impacted me like what I saw in rural India. In the small village where I was visiting a Compassion Child Development Center, families lived in shelters that looked like they would fall over if you sneezed on them. During the hot nights of summer, families would often sleep on the ground outside their shelter. Tragically, I learned that one little girl suffered life-threatening injuries when a cow stepped on her in the middle of the night. As I had a son who was a similar age at the time, that story completely undid me—and still does every time I tell it.
Why was God generous to me and my family and seemingly not generous to this little girl? I have no answers for why God allowed me to be born into a middle-class family in America while this little girl was born into extreme poverty in India. But God has not left me—or any of us born in wealthier countries—without guidance.
As Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6:17, God gives us good things to enjoy. God’s blessings are for our pleasure. I do not need to feel guilty about a disparity I did not create. I do not have to apologize for what God has given me.
But that is not the end of the story. God also expects us to use the riches He has generously given to us to do good works. God blessed me so that I could be a blessing to those in extreme poverty. I am to be generous and ready to share out of the abundance God has given to me.
So what happened to that little girl? She is alive today because of the generosity of donors to Compassion International. A tragedy was averted because of blessings that were shared.
Benefitting from generosity should not induce guilt in any of us. Instead, it should unleash our hearts and our resources to be a blessing to those God has put in our path to be blessed.
ACTION: What emotions do you experience when you benefit from generosity? What is unleashed in you when you realize the generosity you have been shown? What can you do this week to be generous and rich in good works? (If the story above moved you, you can learn more about how Compassion International works to end extreme poverty by visiting their website.)