by Christopher Harbin

Faith by the Wayside
Christopher B. Harbin
Prov. 22:1-9, 22-23; Ps. 125; Mark 7:24-37; James 2:1-10

Generosity seems at variance with the American Dream and its focus on getting ahead of the pack. We don't like to think of it that way, but our national ambition is anything but generous in nature. Perhaps this is in part why some are crying foul in public debate forums like the town hall meetings on health care reform. I have heard many voices of individuals up in arms over concerns of socialism--a reportedly great evil plague of government interference over individuality. The concerns do not seem to be so much a conflict between democracy and socialism, however, but the conflict between individual wealth and social wealth--selfish greed versus generosity toward others.
That is not to say we don't value generosity. We take great pride in holding up as heroes those who go out of their way to help others in crisis. We prize and value their generosity. Yet it seems always to be the generosity of others we prize, instead of our own. If we truly held generosity in high esteem, it would change the way we live, interact, and manage our resources.
I have led several funeral services for saints esteemed by family and friends for their selfless and generous spirits. I have seen the wistful expressions of the faces of family as they spoke about a loved one's values as those of a time long past. I have seen tears swell in recounting selfless actions of a deceased loved one with a seeming confusion over the why of a generous spirit. I have listened to the awe expressed over the heroic selflessness of such loved one. I have also noticed reticence to follow the example of those loved ones valued for this very same generosity.
We seemingly value selflessness and generosity in others, but only at an arm's length. The generous and selfless stand out from the crowd, because their values are different than our own. They have found and lived by a creed we have not ...

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