Thursday, April 21, 2011

Generosity is superior to Taxation, Self Suffiency Trumps Entitlement

Despite the title, I'm not planning to wade into the deep and muddy waters of our current political dilemmas, though the subject matter would allow it.  Instead, I'm going to try and keep my comments on a personal responsibility level.  We'll see in a moment whether or not I manage to succeed.

I was reading this morning in the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament.  Leviticus is a difficult read for most people.  It's not exactly what most of us think of as a page turner; chapter after chapter of rules and regulations for the ancient Israelis.  But I've found some fascinating insights into the principles of sound financial management in it's pages.  One of them jumped out at me today.

I was reading in chapter 23.  Among the rules about the Jewish feasts, there is a harvest reminder.  God tells the people not to harvest to the very edges of their fields and not to go back and catch what they miss.  They are to leave the corners, edges and 'gleanings' for the poor and the immigrant.  Wow.  Planned, deliberate generosity.

Do you get it?  The Israelis weren't to wait for the Government to tax them or for State assistance program to take care of the poor.  There is no set amount or percentage.  Each person decides what 'corners' and 'edges' means.  I'm sure some were more generous than others.  But the point is, generosity was assumed and was proactively built into the Jewish society. 

Are we proactively generous?  I'm not talking about our tithes?  That belongs to God.  Is giving built into your budget?  Entrepreneurs, is generosity a plank in your business plan? 

This coin, BTW, has two sides.  Leviticus 23 is far from an entitlement program.  Notice that God instructs the people to leave the corners and gleanings rather than take part of the harvest to a place where the poor can come and pick it up.  There is a built in assumption that the 'poor' and the 'immigrant' are expected to do their own harvest and threshing.  This is no hand out.  The recipient is expected to work.  Handouts, or 'alms' were for the blind, the crippled and others who were not capable of working.  Later in Paul's letter to Timothy in the New Testament, the Church was to look after truly destitute widows who had no family to take care of them.

The Bible's teaching is very clear.  The principles are not hidden.  1.  Greed is bad.  We should build generosity into our lifestyles.  2. The responsibility of providing for the poor is; a. for the able bodied to do their own work in providing for themselves even when relying on the generosity of others, b. the families of the truly destitute or sick or crippled or physically challenged, c. the Church to look after those of their number who have no family.  Take note, Government programs are nowhere on the list.

Well, I came close to staying out of politics.  I tried, I really did.