As we move and grow along the spiritual path, we grow in our ability to live out Divine virtues of temperance, fortitude, mercy, compassion, generosity, enthusiasm and humility. Today, we explore the Divine understanding of the virtue of generosity and how we are called to live that out.
An Honest Day’s Pay for an Honest Day’s Work?
Let’s say there are two co-workers. One works full time, the other half time. They are performing similar tasks, with a similar level of responsibility and in theory should be working in the same pay scale. Imagine that you are the full-time employee and one of your co-workers the half-time employee. One day you are discussing wages and it comes out that the half-time employee is actually getting paid for their 4 hours the same amount you are getting paid for 8. How would you feel? A little put-off, miffed, maybe even ticked off. Would you want to storm into your bosses’ office and point out this injustice, asking that your either your co-worker’s wages be reduced, or yours be increased? I’m thinking yeah. This is the story that Jesus told his disciples as a way to explain the generous nature of our God, and the generosity we are invited to embrace in our own lives. (Matthew 20: 1-16)
One of the points that Jesus was trying to make is that God’s justice is NOTHING like human justice. Specifically, Jesus is speaking of “The Kingdom” (See my book, Authentic Freedom, Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy for more on “the kingdom”). What he is trying to tell the disciples is that GOD IS GENEROUS, unconditionally loving and that “the last will be first.” In other words, the judgments we want to heap upon our Creator and our idea that “the kingdom” is the exclusive right of a specific religious (or political, or gender, or orientation, or race) group, or determined by a predetermined set of “laws” and that some are outside the “kingdom” and a lucky few are inside. Jesus turns the tables on the disciples’ beliefs and on the beliefs of anyone that would care to listen. In this story, even the part-timer who only showed up for the last hour of the workday, still got the full day’s wages….God is GENEROUS! God does not withold. All experience the benefit of God’s generous love. EVERYONE gets to have the FULL experience of “the kingdom.”
Our Call to Generosity
After we are done heaping all this judgment on God and expecting God to dole out the rewards of the kingdom based on people’s “good works”, special merits, earned indulgences or simply because they belong to the “right group,” we are invited to recognize that what we are doing is projecting our own human stinginess on to God. WE are the ones who judge. WE are the ones who withold. WE are the ones that decide who is good, bad, virtuous, sinful, deserving of love, undeserving of love. What Jesus reminds us is that God’s ways are not our own. HOWEVER…..we are invited to grow in our ability to set aside our human pettiness and work toward allowing our own thoughts and actions to be more God-like. Through this story, we are invited to take a look in the mirror. Where are we witholding our resources (money, time, gifts, talents) or jealously guarding them for only those we feel are deserving? Where do we cling to our resources (money, time, gifts, talents), fearful that if we share them or give them away that our own needs might not be met? Where do we allow the fears that “there is not enough” or “I have nothing to contribute” (The first and second spiritual fears as outlined in Authentic Freedom) to keep me from trusting in a Divine that will meet of our needs and that we are uniquely gifted and called to share those gifts in the world? Where do we allow these fears to keep us from sharing what we have and who we are, because we are afraid there won’t be enough for ourselves at the end of the day? DIVINE GENEROSITY invites us to let go of these fears….to freely and generously share who we are and what we have, trusting that even in this, all our needs will be abundantly met. Countercultural…to be sure!
Where do you find yourself withholding your gifts?
Where are you indulging the fear “there is not enough?”
How are you being invited, today, to be generous with your resources and in the sharing of who you are?
Authentic Freedom Ministries