By. Rev. Peter E. Bauer, A Minister In The United Church Of Christ
Several years ago, I was waiting at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport for a flight. I was in military uniform, and I was hungry. I was in the food court and made my way to purchase something to eat. At that very moment, a man, a total stranger, came up to me, gave me twenty dollars and said:
“Thank you. This is on me. “
I thanked the man and was touched by his thoughtfulness and generosity. Usually, I don’t meet a lot of people who express this type of extravagant welcome. I’m usually encountering the person who rushes ahead to grab a parking space, or a position in the check-out line at the supermarket.
Why wouldn’t people want to be more generous in their interactions with others?
Bishop Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has suggested in his book “The Power Of Love “ :
“The opposite of love is selfishness, and hatred is a derivative of selfishness. You see, selfishness or self-centeredness or, as the ancient mothers and fathers used to say, hubris (that is false pride, self-centered pride that puts me in the center of the world, and you and God and everybody else on the periphery) … selfishness like that is the root of all evil. “ ( P. 47 )
You can see this type of behavior displayed in families, in work settings and even in governmental policies (i.e., like leaving over 800,000 people working without a paycheck as witnessed in the recent government shutdown).
When people exhibit selfish behavior, it can point to a fear that there will not be enough material resources for all. The fear may also extend to the person feeling like they will not receive what they feel that they deserve.
This also raises the question as to whether people view life as the source of abundant resources or scarce items.
People who react out of a scarcity mode will be watching carefully what they have, may tend to hoard what they possess or look with avarice at what they can next attain.
I was recently with a good friend of mine. We were talking and waiting for other friends to join us. Again, all of a sudden, a woman came forward to my friend and mentioned that she had known my friend’s mother years before.
This incident totally surprised my friend and she said:
“ I can’t believe after twenty years that she remembered my mother. “
I replied to my friend:
“It’s a gift. “
When you least expect it, there will be those times when generosity, care and kindness will triumph over selfishness, self-centeredness and neglect.
There will be those Kairos moments, when the time is transformed by the presence of God or the divine, however known.
How will we respond to the world and to the presence of life?
Will we perceive it as abundance or scarcity?
May we choose charity and love.
May it be so.