Gifts to the Poor
There are eight degrees or steps in the duty of charity. The first and lowest degree is to give, but with reluctance or regret. This is the gift of the hand, but not of the heart.
The second is, to give cheerfully, but not proportionately to the distress of the sufferer.
The third is, to give cheerfully and proportionately, but not until solicited.
The fourth is, to give cheerfully, proportionately, and even unsolicited; but to put it in the poor man’s hand, thereby exciting in him the painful emotion of shame.
The fifth is, to give charity in such a way that the distressed may receive the bounty, and know their benefactor, without their being known to him. Such was the conduct of some of our ancestors, who used to tie up money in the corners of their cloaks, so that the poor might take it unperceived.
The sixth, which rises still higher is to know the objects of our bounty, but remain unknown to them. Such was the conduct of those of our ancestors, who used to convey their charitable gifts into poor people’s dwellings; taking care that their own persons and names should remain unknown.
The seventh is still more meritorious, namely to bestow charity in such a way that the benefactor many not know the relieved persons, nor they the name of their benefactors, as was done by our charitable forefathers during the existence of the Temple. For there was in that holy building a place called the Chamber of the Silent, wherein the good deposited secretly whatever their generous hearts suggested, and from which the poor were maintained with equal secrecy.
Lastly, the eighth, and the most meritorious of all, is to anticipate charity, by preventing poverty; namely, to assist the reduced fellowman, either by a considerable gift, or a loan of money, or by teaching him a trade, or by putting him in the way of business, so that he may earn an honest livelihood; and not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding out his hand for charity. To this Scripture alludes when it says: and if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt relieve him; yea, though he be a stranger or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. This is the highest step and the summit of charity’s golden ladder.
— Maimonides 12th century Jewish philosopher
The land of Persia was once ruled by a wise and beloved Shah who cared greatly for his people and desired only what was best for them. One day he disguised himself as a poor man and went to visit the public baths. The water for the baths was heated by a furnace in the cellar, so the Shah made his way to the dark place to sit with the man who tended the fire.
The two men shared the coarse food, and the Shah befriended him in his loneliness. Day after day the ruler went to visit the man. The worker became attached to this stranger because he “came where he was”. One day the Shah revealed his true identity, and he expected the man to ask him for a gift. Instead, he looked long
into his leader’s face and with love and wonder in his voice said, “You left your palace and your glory to sit with me in this dark place, to eat my coarse food, and to care about what happens to me. On others you may bestow rich gifts, but to me you have given yourself!”
Beggar and Banker
One day a woman was walking down the street when she spied a beggar sitting on the corner. The man was elderly, unshaven, and ragged. As he sat there, pedestrians walked by him giving him dirty looks. They clearly wanted nothing to do with him because of who he was — a dirty, homeless man. But when she saw him, the woman was moved to compassion.
It was very cold that day and the man had his tattered coat — more like an old suit coat rather than a warm coat — wrapped around him. She stopped and looked down. “Sir?” she asked. “Are you all right?”
The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like that she had never missed a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun ofchim, like so many others had done before. “Leave me alone,” he growled.
To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling, her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. “Are you hungry?” she asked.
“No,” he answered sarcastically. “I’ve just come from dining with the president. Now go away.”
The woman’s smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm. “What are you doing, lady?” the man asked angrily. “I said to leave me alone.”
Just then a policeman came up. “Is there any problem, ma’am?” he asked.
“No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?”
The officer scratched his head. “That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?”
“See that cafeteria over there?” she asked. “I’m going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.”
“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted. “I don’t want to go in there!” Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. “Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.”
“This is a good deal for you, Jack,” the officer answered. “Don’t blow it.”
Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by the table.
“What’s going on here, officer?” he asked. “What is all this. Is this man in trouble?”
“This lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.
“Not in here!” the manager replied angrily. “Having a person like that here is bad for business.”
Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. “See, lady. I told you so. Now if you’ll let me go. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”
The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. “Sir, are you familiar with the banking firm down the street?”
“Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.”
“And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?”
“What business is that of yours?”
“I, sir, am president and CEO of the company.”
The woman smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.” She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?”
“No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”
“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?”
“Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”
The cafeteria manager turned on his heel. “I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer.”
The officer watched him walk away. “You certainly put him in his place,” he said.
“That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.” She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently. “Jack, do you remember me?”
Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes “I think so. I mean you do look familiar.”
“I’m a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I’ve even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.”
“Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly. He couldn’t believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.
“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”
Jack lit up with a smile. “Now I remember,” he said. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”
“I know,” the woman continued. “Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over, I saw you put the price of my food in the cash register. I knew then that everything would be all right.”
“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.
“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business prospered.” She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. “When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk to him now and I’m certain he’ll find something for you to do around the office.”
She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. And if you ever need anything, my door is always open for you.”
There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he said.
“Don’t thank me,” the woman answered. “To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus. He led me to you.”
A man went to his farmer friend and asked him: “If you had ten cows would you give me 5?”
The farmer replied: “Certainly! If I had 10 cows I would give you five!”
The man then asked: “If you had 6 pigs would you give me 3?”
The farmer replied “Without a doubt if I had 6 pigs I would give you 3!”
The man then asked: “If you had 2 chickens would you give me one?”
The farmer then replied: “Now that’s unfair! Because you know I have 2 chickens!”
Am I being too punny about the penny exchange? I have, as mentioned,
a nearly 7-year old son, Danesh who sounds like a match for your
He’d been helping me with shopping, scurrying to other aisles to find things and off loading the trolley onto the check out stand. I gave him the small change in return for all the help (not a pre-condition you understand). He took it, turned, went over to the large plexiglass collection drum for various causes that we have all over China in lieu of Community Chests and such, and carefully put it all in. I’ve never explored the subject of charity with him and he didn’t turn to me for approval or approbation, just rejoined me and the bagged groceries and accepted my hand and the squeeze it gave.
Donation Vs Commitment
Basically the difference between a donation and commitment is bacon & eggs.
When you eat breakfast, the chicken made a donation but the pig was totally committed.
8 Gifts That Do not Cost A Cent:
1) THE GIFT OF LISTENING…
But you must REALLY listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.
2) THE GIFT OF AFFECTION…
Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.
3) THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER…
Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”
4) THE GIFT OF A WRITTEN NOTE…
It can be a simple “Thanks for the help” note or a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even
change a life.
5) THE GIFT OF A COMPLIMENT…
A simple and sincere, “You look great in red,” “You did a super job”
or “That was a wonderful meal” can make someone’s day.
6) THE GIFT OF A FAVOR…
Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.
7) THE GIFT OF SOLITUDE…
There are times when we want nothing better than to be left alone.
Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.
8) THE GIFT OF A CHEERFUL DISPOSITION…
The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone, really
it’s not that hard to say, Hello or Thank You.
A beautiful little girl was very sick and had to be confined to a hospital bed for quite some time.
Since her family was very wealthy, they bought her the finest toys – huge over-stuffed animals, a variety of dolls with every imaginable change of dress, an ornate doll house, and the latest of games and puzzles.
The little girl’s mother was well known in social circles, and her face was often seen in the society columns at various charitable events. She brought something new every time she came to the hospital to visit her daughter. She never stayed very long, for she was always due at some luncheon or social gathering, but she never failed to bring a gift.
The nurses and doctors complained about the abundance of toys, games and flowers that made it almost impossible for them to get around in the little girl’s room.
One day the little girl was particularly unhappy in the midst of all her fine gifts. Her mother was paying her daughter her usual short visit. The little girl was desperately clinging to her mother, who tried to extricate herself so that she would not be late for a luncheon she was scheduled to attend that afternoon.
The mother tried to interest the little child in a new and expensive doll that she had brought with her that day.
“Mommy,” cried the little girl, “I don’t want another doll, I want YOU!”
Surrounded by all the material things that money could buy and that a little child could ever want, the little girl desired the most important thing of all, her mother’s presence.
The Golden Gift
Some time ago, a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight, and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, “This is for you daddy.” He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found that the box was empty. He yelled at her, “Don’t you know that when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside of it?”
The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, “Oh, Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses into the box; all for you, Daddy.” The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl and he begged her forgiveness.
The man kept that gold box by his bed for years. Whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there. In a very real sense, each of us as parents has been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children. There is no more precious possession any could hold!
Hindu indictment of Christendom
Years ago an article was published in India urging that Christianity be adopted as the official religion of India. The Hindu writer defended his proposal by pointing out that Christianity is the cheapest religion in the world.
“I know what I am talking about,” he wrote. “Here in our country we give all for our religion, and often keep ourselves poor in doing so. But I have been to America and I know that there are millions of professing Christians who spend more for gasoline than they do for God, more for their own personal pleasure than they do for the advancement of the faith their profess.”
There’s an old African story about gifts. An African boy brought his teacher a large and quite beautiful sea shell. She thanked him for it and asked where it came from. He said there’s only one place and told her where it was. It was from a small bay many miles away.
The teacher said, “You shouldn’t have walked that distance just for a gift.”
The boy replied simply, “Long walk part of gift.”
A Little Reminder
Did you hear about the mouse that lived in the Kingdom Hall? He
had a great little apartment under the platform. However the
congregation divided, then formed a third congregation, until there
was someone on that platform virtually all the time! The poor
mouse was getting no rest and his social life was ruined, so he
decided to move.
As he was going out with his little “mouse things,” he passed a
spider. “Where you goin’ Mr. Mouse?”, asked the spider. So the
mouse explained the deplorable conditions under the platform.
“You need to move in with me,” said the spider. “I’ve got a nice
quiet little place where nothing ever happens.”
“Where do you live Mr. Spider?”, he wondered.
“In the contribution box!”
What Kind of Giver Are You?
Generosity is a godly trait. Sometimes (or perhaps often) people fall short of godliness in this aspect of life.
For instance, there are three types of givers, a flint, a sponge and a honeycomb.
To get anything out of the flint, you have to hammer it. Even then all you get is chips and sparks.
To get something from a sponge, you have to squeeze it! Obviously the more pressure that is applied, the more is extracted.
Finally, the honeycomb just overflows with its own sweetness.
(2 Corinthians 9:7) Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Wise Woman’s Stone
A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”