To save the world

"Saints Peter and John healing the lame man" by Nicolas Poussin, 1655. Image shared online by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, www.metmuseum.org

“Saints Peter and John healing the lame man” by Nicolas Poussin, 1655.
Image shared online by the Metropolitan Museum of Art

“I have never met anyone who wanted to save the world without my financial support.”Robert Brault

OK, it’s comic relief time here at Defeat Despair, and what better time than election season to take note of the fact that even when our other gifts go unwanted and unrecognized, there is always someone who will appreciate whatever money we can come up with.

Have you noticed our tendency to assume it takes gobs of money to make any sort of big or meaningful change in the world?  Sometimes I think looking for solutions in wealth (usually someone else’s wealth) is just another way of letting ourselves off the hook for NOT doing the little everyday things that can make a huge cumulative difference.  We might not be able to save the world with a smile or a kind word or a small act of compassion that few will ever know about.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing these things anyway.

There’s a wonderful story in the Bible, the book of Acts, chapter 3, in which a man who had been unable to walk from birth asks Peter and John for money. Peter tells him, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” For the first time ever, he did just that. The man asked for money, but got something far better. Maybe there’s a lesson here for us.  Maybe more than one lesson.

It’s easy to assume that money would solve most of our problems, and it definitely comes in handy in a great many situations. Moreover, it’s far too natural an impulse to want to hang onto whatever we get, and not share it, dreading some unforeseen future crisis.  Yet it’s not wise to trust in money as a defense against disaster.  So the point isn’t that we don’t need to give financially; I’m convinced that we do, for many reasons, among which is for our own psychological and spiritual benefit.

But how often do we seek money when what we really need is something that no amount of money could ever buy?  How many times have we gotten what we really needed, not what we thought we wanted?  Do we ever “sell out” for financial gain, only to find that we have bartered away something priceless for something ephemeral, even worthless?

There are a great many worthy and unworthy people and organizations who “want to save the world” with our financial support. Sometimes it will be a good thing to give it.  But give wisely, and don’t let it discourage you if you don’t have money to give.  Maybe what you do have to give is worth more than anything that could be bought.

14 Comments

  1. Sheila

    Good morning, my friend. “What to give?” seems to come up more frequently these days in various situations. Small gestures can have huge rewards, with no monetary strings attached. We laugh about birthday cards that get opened and then shook! Money has found it’s way into everything, it seems. Kind words and genuine gestures certainly will buy some happiness for me. I hope these days of recovery are going well. 🙏

    • Hi Sheila, it’s always a joy to hear from you. Your kind words and gestures have bought a great deal of happiness for me! As for Jeff’s recovery from brain surgery, it’s uneven but hopefully in a positive direction. Ditto my recovery from his recovery! Some days are better than others. But any days are better than none, right? 🙂 Thanks for being with us– and staying with us! ❤

  2. Great point here Julia and I agree with the humor of it. We just keep throwing money at things and they never get better. The solution isn’t in the money it’s in our thinking and doing.

    • Or as the Beatles sang in their song “Revolution” (a favorite of mine) “You tell me it’s the institution, well, you know, you’d better free your mind instead.” 😀

      Giant (totally money-free) hugs!

      • I like those kinds of hugs. 😉 Been holding you in my thoughts for days now.

        • Thank you Marlene! It helps more than you know, and probably even more than I know, too! 😀

  3. Amen, Julia. Spot on.
    -Alan

    • Thank you, Alan.

      • Thanks for the teas, Julia. Received them a couple of days ago. Sorry to be tardy in relying.
        -Alan

        • Hi Alan, I’m glad you got them. Plenty more available — let me know if you discover any favorites. 🙂

  4. Good morning, Julia!
    Hmm. “They” say that money is never the wrong size or color, when it comes to gift-giving….
    On the other hand it’s the easiest thing to give, because it doesn’t require any real thought or connection to the actual need. It’s like the saying “give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day ….” Teaching someone to fish takes time – a real investment.
    Ok, back to the first hand (since I have only two), I do know of certain persons that have a skill that I don’t have (like speaking Hindi), or have features that I don’t have, that open a world to them that I could not effectively enter. I once wanted to go do something useful in Africa, like my friends, Deb and Greg. Well, after some consideration, probably the most useful thing that I can do is “keep the day job,” so that I can support my friends’ ministry with my prayers – and money!

    • Hi Susan! You’re right, money works so well in so many ways. Having said that though, I dislike sending money instead of a gift. When I do send it I try to enclose it in some sort of little doo-dad present. I hate that so many people seem only to want money anymore. There’s a special grace to giving AND receiving something made or chosen or given especially for the recipient. Of course, one has to know a person well to make that sort of exchange; I think that’s why money tends to feel so impersonal. But there are many situations, such as the one you describe, where money is the perfect gift.

      And yes, it’s important that those of us who can give financially, do so. The world as we know it would not keep running if nobody worked a job and paid taxes and sent gifts of love in the form of dollars. BUT I think people can be trapped into thinking that only big sums make a difference. I believe the story of the widow’s mite, or the loaves and fishes, teaches us that God is able to multiply even the smallest efforts given in love; I believe that in the end, no gesture of love is ever small or finite, as its full effect will never be measured. And, I’ve lived long enough to see that everybody — and I mean EVERYBODY — most needs what money can never buy: connection, caring, compassion, a human touch. We can give these gifts through others, such as your friends Deb and Greg, but we also give them in person when we do things like stop by with a New England pumpkin and go on a photo-op walk with our friend in Virginia! 😀

      • Aw, you make me smile, Julia. 😀

        • 🙂 I love reciprocity! 🙂

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