St. Cyprian tells us to be generous in giving to the poor. But don’t we have to worry about feeding ourselves, too? No need to worry: trust in Christ, and you will be provided for.
If you’re afraid that you might use up all your property by being so generous, and be reduced to poverty, cheer up and don’t worry. You can’t run out if you’re supplying the service of Christ or performing the work of heaven.
I don’t tell you this just on my own authority. I promise it on the faith of the Holy Scriptures, and on the authority of God’s promise. The Holy Spirit speaks through Solomon, saying, “He who gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse” (Proverbs 28:27), showing that the merciful, and anyone who does good, cannot be in want, but those who are stingy and miserly do end up in want later on.
You’re afraid that your estate might fail if you begin to be generous from it—and you don’t know, miserable fellow that you are, that, while you’re worrying about your family property failing you, life itself and salvation are failing you. While you worry that your wealth might shrink a bit, you don’t see that you’re being diminished yourself by loving riches more than your own soul.
Are you afraid that your estate might fall short if you begin to be generous from it? But when has it ever happened that a righteous man could run out? It is written, “The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry” (Proverbs 10:3). Elijah was fed by ravens in the desert, and Daniel in the lions’ den had a meal from heaven. Are you afraid of not having enough to eat when you work and deserve well of the Lord? Do you think that a Christian, a servant of the Lord, one who gives his life to good works—do you think that someone dear to the Lord will lack anything? Or do you imagine that whoever feeds Christ is not himself fed by Christ?
–St. Cyprian, Treatise 8, chapters 9-12IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Do I give generously in the service of God, or do I hold back more than I ought to?
Lord, look kindly on the gifts I bring to offer to you. Give me the faith and humility that alone will make my offering pleasing to you.
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