The Generous Samaritan

“No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he only had good intentions. He had money as well.” —Margaret Thatcher

What do you think about this quote? Is it true?

I have had this quote on my home office desk since ripping it off of my “Quote of the Day” calendar in 2006. I always thought of the quote as reflecting on money as the source of action. That is, you can have all the intent in the world, but without the means to fund your goals, you can’t get there. What better for a fundraiser to have on his desk? We need to ask for money to fund our mission!

But in our Lutheran education world, how does this quote stand up? For nearly 200 years, Lutheran schools in Indiana were started by well-intentioned leaders, either to instruct the children of a congregation or reach out the community around the congregation. Members gave, buildings were built, teachers were hired, students were taught.

But many time the act of giving is hushed and pushed aside until there is a dire need (“The roof is leaking!”), a capital campaign comes around, the dreaded “Stewardship Sunday” is scheduled, or a board member notes, “if everyone tithed we wouldn’t have these issues!”

However, we are instructed by Paul in Romans 12 to use our gifts of giving: “if it is giving, then give generosity.” And I have always considered myself as an evangelist of the Cheerful Giver from 2nd Corinthians 9:7: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Ultimately, using the term my pastor uses every week, we got to own it; if you have the means, give. And give like you mean it. That is your gift.

And if Google defines “generous” as “showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected”, then perhaps the Good Samaritan is in reality the Generous Samaritan: he certainly did more than what was expected, he did it cheerfully, and he owned it. It was his gift from God.

Anyway, I think I will keep the quote in my stable of funny lines for future presentations, but thanks to my work with TLSP over the last 6 years, my perspective on it has forever been altered. For the good.

P.S. And I would be remiss not to note that man, the big sack of maggots that we are, received the ultimate, undeserving generosity through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ. No money exchanged hands there (well, Judas might say otherwise, but you get the point), but oh, what an investment He made.

 

Picture source: Time-Life