Materialistic Generosity: The Limits of Earthbound Altruism


Mary, Judas, Lazarus, Jesus, painting, perfume

In my latest post at Common Sense Concept, I explore the topic of generosity as it pertains to the Love of God and the Love of Man.

More specifically, I examine the centrality of sacrifice in the Christian pursuit and the corresponding importance of grounding that sacrifice in the divine rather than the debased.

Here’s an excerpt:

We must move beyond our humanistic perceptions of generosity, pushing energetically toward a more heavenly orientation — one that is led by the Spirit rather than the flesh. As Kelly Kapic argues in his recent book, Jesus’ death on the Cross is not just a gift, but an invitation to participate in God’s unique movement of divine generosity.

To explore this point further, I look at a story in the Gospel of John in which Mary lavishes Jesus’ feet with expensive ointment. Judas scolds Mary for wasting precious resources, claiming that they would be better sacrificed on behalf of the poor.

Jesus responds with this: “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

As I argue in the post, Jesus is pointing to Judas’ fundamentally materialistic perspective of generosity — a view that sees human individuals (and their resources) as static and predictable variables to be manipulated through “generosity.”

As far as how this might contribute to our views about politics or economics, the key take-aways are as follows:

Above all, we should note that Jesus approaches each situation [and individual] differently. Whereas he told the rich young ruler to give everything to the poor, he told Judas that a burial ceremony was more important. (Say what?)

Jesus did not roam about the wilderness with a magic wand, waving it over the impoverished while reciting quaint universal spells for extra flair. Likewise, he did not travel to Rome to promote some one-size-fits-all policy for worldwide poverty alleviation. Instead, he met people where they were (Judas included), giving them room to express their faith, and reason to engage their love.

That is what the Love of God is all about.

Read the full post here.

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