As I recall, one day while browsing the web, I noticed some pictures of lavish things that people did to honor those who have died; I assume the honored dead did great deeds for society or at least were thought to do so while they lived. As I finished looking at the pictures and scrolled toward the comment section, I noticed someone questioned how many starving children could have been fed with the resources used to honor the dead; but that is not what got my attention. Soon after, someone asked how many starving children could have been fed if the previous commenter, who had lamented the waste of financial means, gave up some electrical device they had; the answer was, “not many.”
While I don’t consider the extravagance lavished on those graves as the best way to show appreciation, especially if the deceased was honored for self-sacrifice, the question in my mind is how much do we really care about the poor or those less fortunate than we are? If we only concern ourselves with the poor when looking at someone else’s great wealth, or if we claim that we feel bad about the poor sick bald children with cancer when seeing someone with longer thicker hair than our own, how much do we really care? If we really cared about the well-being of others, it doesn't matter how little good we could do, we would try instead of excusing ourselves and placing the burden on others.
When Elijah asked a poor widow “‘Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand,’” she said, “‘As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die’” (1 Kings 17:11-12). She trusted God would provide, “So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days” (1 Kings 17:15).
She didn’t say, “Well I can’t feed many with what I do have, so I am justified in keeping it for myself and spending my means on my own pleasures while I can.” She gave. God blessed her. Those who excuse themselves from a life of self-sacrifice and service, who yet insist the belongings of others should be reduced for use by the poor, are being selfish, even if it is hidden under the guise of righteousness.
Part of the Ten Commandments says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17). While I might not think others always do as much as they can for others, I would be covetous to place the responsibility of giving on others because I want to keep my things (or because maybe I am jealous of what they have and wish they had less). It is very easy for us to pass the responsibility for caring for others on others, but God puts it on us.
“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘the seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the Lord against you, and it become sin among you’” (Deuteronomy 15:7-9).
In the year of release, people didn’t have to pay back the things that they had borrowed, so people might be tempted not to help anyone during that time; but that was wrong. Likewise, it is wrong for us to withhold our help from those in need and place the responsibility on others because it may require something from us. Beware least you grow a wicked heart.