Rod Barks

Bill Gates and Jesus trumpet similar message of generosity By Rod Barks

When it comes to finances, Bill Gates and Jesus have much in common.

Not in the accumulation of wealth, of course; Bill, with his planes and mansions, is the hands-down winner in that category — at least on Earth. By comparison, Jesus lived in apparent poverty. Starting life in a stable prepared him for an equally difficult adulthood, where he frequently had “no place to lay his head.” Even after crucifixion his body was laid in a borrowed tomb — though he did believe in recycling and donated it back to the original owner just three days later.

Despite divergent wealth portfolios, Gates’s paradigm of giving is a remarkable reflection of Jesus. He recently stated, “The really worthy people give up something, or take less of a vacation. I haven’t made any sacrifice, so their philanthropy is more impressive.” (SP, Oct. 30, 2010)

This gospel of Gates is likewise trumpeted in the Gospel of Luke as “… Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ he said. ‘This poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’”

Bill and Jesus both highlight that genuine generosity is not measured in gift size, but in the amount left over. By Gates’ own admission, his $33-billion charitable foundation is eclipsed by the two small coins that dropped from the weathered hands of the widow lady. She gave all.

Most Canadians need not worry about the management of millions. Our core challenge is complicated by the desire to live generously while struggling to pay bills and put food on the table. Non-gazillionaires the world over can learn much from the unnamed heroine simply described as “the poor widow”.

She gave of what she possessed. A common mindset surrounding generosity is, “I’ll give when I win the lottery.” Interpretation: “It’ll happen right about the time Justin Bieber shaves his head; unlikely.” But our superstar philanthropist entertained no such notions, choosing instead to invest her two remaining coins in the interests of others.

Participation was not limited by embarrassment over the minor amount or fear of the future. She knew that blessings come wrapped in multiple-sized packages whose value is determined by sacrifice alone — and hers was priceless.

I’m grateful that her philosophy lived on after her funeral. In fact it reaches into my world and impacts me frequently. A neighbour passes on bags of carrots; they represent her two small coins. A cash-strapped farmer recently pressed a couple of $20s into my hand and whispered, “Take your wife out for supper.” Such individuals are the white knights of philanthropy to which Gates referred. They invite us, via example, to shake off the shackles of selfishness and step into the freedom-land of generosity.

It’s not complicated. Buy two cups of coffee at Tim’s; one for you and one for the next customer. Purchase groceries for the single mother down the street. Double up on donations to a favourite charity.

A fresh definition of financial success will begin to resound within — that true financial freedom has nothing to do with the accumulation of wealth and everything to do with the dispensing of generosity.

It’s a pathway that the wise alone walk. The rest sit round counting pennies, living with much but investing in little that will endure beyond their final breath — pity.

Just Posted

Watch: Westerner Days in full swing

The heat and the thunderstorms didn’t stop anybody

The Expo Wheel ride a no-go at Westerner Days

Red Deerians take in Westerner Days all week long

20,000 swarm to Westerner Days on day two

Westerner Days Fair & Exposition saw the community meet-up for Tim Hortons Kids Day

WATCH: Red Deer Airport’s Boot Scootin BBQ supports great cause

Airport hopes to donate $4,000+ to Aspire Special Needs

Four-car crash, including RCMP vehicle, on Highway 2

Two sheriff’s vehicles were also involved in the collision that closed down one lane

WATCH: Red Deer Airport’s Boot Scootin BBQ supports great cause

Airport hopes to donate $4,000+ to Aspire Special Needs

Cigarette packs with graphic images, blunt warnings are effective: focus groups

Warnings considered effective flag ailments smoking can cause, like colorectal and stomach cancers

Canada’s title hopes quashed at Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco

On the men’s side, Canada was eliminated in the round of 16 as they were shut out by Argentina 28-0

Astronaut drops in on Kraftwerk gig, plays duet from space

Alexander Gerst becomes an astronaut musician with live performance from International Space Station

Four people taken by STARS to Edmonton

Blackfalds RCMP investigates single vehicle rollover south of Hwy 11A

Trump was taped talking of paying Playboy model: AP source

Source says former personal lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded discussion prior to 2016 election

UPDATED: Remains of all eight Bruce McArthur victims now identified, Toronto police say

McArthur worked as a landscaper and allegedly concealed the remains of several men in planters

Premiers to wrap up 2 days of meetings at New Brunswick seaside resort

Meetings held in the scenic seaside town of St. Andrews on Thursday focused on trade

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

Most Read