“I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.” Mere Christianity, p. 86
They say that something like three-quarters of all people lose sleep over money worries. I am not in the lucky one-quarter. It’s not that wanting more keeps me awake, it’s worrying about having less in my older years. It’s not so much that I love money, which I seem to do at times, and too often at times, but rather that I worry deeply about being broke. Not having enough.
A consolation, for me at least, is found in the literary archives of one of my surrogate fathers, C.S. Lewis. Jack, as I am fond of imagining he would ask me to call him, was deeply worried about “having enough money.” It’s not as if you could simply excise a quote of his to show what I mean, but read his voluminous Collected Letters (3500+ pages) and you’ll see that this son of a privileged Irish lawyer, throughout his life, worried about having enough.
Jack had a fabulous attitude about “giving to the poor”; he considered it a part of Christian morality. He said,
There ought to be things that we’d like to do but cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them: In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, and amusement, is up to the standard common of those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little.
An old saint-friend of mine, Charlie Green, used to tell his parishioners that if they have never “given before” then they can start by giving in small bits. Start with two percent and watch how you survive. And like good exercise, build up your giving muscles by doing a little more, and then a little more again.
Before you know it, you will be loving people like Jesus wants you to love them. Not just in word, but in great deed. Remember, words are cheap, currency costs. Lewis, by the way, regularly gave away gigantic percentages of his personal money.