Burks

Over the years, people have asked me if I dance, and I often reply, “No, I’m a Baptist.”

“What does that have to do with your dancing ability?” they’ll ask.

My answer comes from the lyrics of George Michael’s 1984 hit song, “Careless Whisper” where he sings, “Guilty feet have got no rhythm.”

These days my dancing ability is greatly impaired by the guilt I feel from my financial good fortune.

No, my wife and I aren’t really amassing a windfall. We live a modest life on Becky’s pension from teaching, and my retirement check from the Air National Guard. With the cost of living in California, our outgo usually matches our income.

Yet, these days we are like many Check-of-the-Month Club members who are watching their bank account inexplicably grow.

I attribute the swelling more to simple inaction rather than intentional action. We just aren’t spending money on travel, dining or movies. Also, no more Walmart shopping trips to buy our grandkids oversized, plastic dinosaurs.

My stay-at-home life brings me face-to-face with my past greed and I realize how much I don’t need. I don’t need new clothes; I don’t need to update my phone or buy a bigger TV set. I don’t need to overload my cart at the Big Box stores.

All of this introspection has inflicted me with a kind of survivor’s guilt. I feel a bit shamefaced, almost believing that I’ve done something wrong by prospering during these traumatic times.

I wish there were some way of returning my first stimulus check. I’d like to tell the government to “Keep it. Give it to someone who needs it. Double it up for someone else.”

I can’t do that of course. But Jesus spells out an alternative in Luke 12:48 – “To whom much is given, much shall be required.”

In other words, give to others what has been given to you.

He’s not suggesting just any kind of giving or tipping. These times call for sacrificial, extravagant giving.

Jesus described this kind of giving while watching the rich contribute large sums to the temple treasury. Out of nowhere, a widow appeared gripping two small coins called “mites,” which were the smallest of currency. Without fanfare, she slipped the coins into the collection box.

Jesus pounced on the moment to make a point to his disciples, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford — she gave her all” (Mark 12:41 ff).

It’s time to give until it hurts. Give until your bank account is lower than it’s ever been.

Give tips larger than expected. Give thanks to everyone who’s working at the gas station or delivering your mail. Give your sympathy and your dollars to people who aren’t working.

I’ve done my best to follow this advice for the past three months. I’ve been blessed to give to both a local and a national women’s shelter. I’ve given locally to Salvation Army, 4-H Club projects and my church benevolence fund.

If you too find yourself with a growing bank account, I encourage you to help our nation and our world thrive again. If you do, I believe you will discover that extravagant giving can be guilt-free.

In the meantime, how do I tell my wife that we may have won the online bid for three goats from the Kentucky Flat 4H Club in Nevada City?

Note to readers: Most of you know about the Chispa Project, a nonprofit founded by my daughter, Sara, to start libraries in Honduran elementary schools. If your budget allows extra giving this month, Chispa is seeking funding that will help specific Honduran schools support distance learning.  More at www.ChispaProject.org

Read more at www.thechaplain.net. Contact me at comment@thechaplain.net or 10566 Combie Road, Suite 6643, Auburn, CA 95602 or via voicemail (843) 608-9715. Twitter @chaplain.