Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How Much is Proper to Give to the Needy?

What is our responsibility when it comes to using our financial resources to help the needy?  Are to give all we have to the poor?  The spiritual issue involved is about our love of money and our priority given to efforts to the acquisition of more and more for our own benefit and a luxurious life style.  As Paul said in his letter to Timothy, "For the love of money is the root of all evil" (Tim 6:10). In our alms giving we need to be reasonable as well as compassionate. We must remember that we have responsibilities to our family which need to be met.

Here is advice from Elder Marcarius,
Living in the world, surrounded by your family, you cannot possibly give away all of your possessions.  So you must aim at finding the golden mean, and strive to keep to it: never turn your back on the world, but see to it that the world does not engross you.  All things that your children require you should carefully keep for them.  Any surplus of any kind, give away to the needy.
He emphasizes the idea of reasonableness.  This is important as the needs of the needy are very large and one person cannot possible fulfill them all.  Our good intentions to give all we have to help others must be tempered with reason.

Elder Macarius says,
Give your mite with a feeling of deep compassion.  But above all be reasonable.
Even if you gave all you had, you could not properly alleviate the intense misery of them all.  On the other hand you have your family to care for and must strive to keep them comfortable, although it is right to dispense all luxury for yourself and them.
A part of this reasonableness is to avoid lavish spending. Every luxury can be seen as taking something away from those who do not have what they need for basic daily life.  

Finally the Elder says,
Humble yourself and find peace.
I recommend careful examination of your own expenses, with a view to cutting down a margin of unnecessary little luxuries.

Reference: Russian Letters of Spiritual Direction, p 69 

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