Last year, Bill Gates, investor Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg (of Facebook fame) signed the "Gates-Buffet Giving Pledge" in which they promised to donate to charity at least half of their wealth over the course of time. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already donated $28 billion dollars to charity, and they have pledged to eventually give away 95% of their wealth. A lot of wealthy people don't do that; in fact, few wealthy people do that. One of the criticisms in all the love-fest following the death of Steve Jobs was the fact that he didn't seem to be much of a philanthropist. Of course, I remember someone telling prospective philanthropists "do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." You really do have to admire people like Bill and Melinda Gates who have made a second career out of giving away what they accumulated in their first.
The biggest danger that "Regular Joes" like you and me face when it comes to giving is in thinking that the only giving that makes a difference is that which is done by the wealthy. Sure, Jesus told the story of the widow and her two small coins (Mark 12:41-44), but His point was the size of her sacrifice, not the good that her gift was able to accomplish. Even though their hearts may have been hard and their actually sacrifice was small, surely more actual good was done by the big sacks of gold thrown into the treasury by the Jerusalem fat cats, right? Maybe not. I seem to remember Jesus making the gift of a sack lunch of loaves and fishes go pretty far in helping people. This is God we're talking about, right? Who knows how He can use my gift even though it falls somewhat short of that of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
I ran across the following film parable about the change that our change can do. It's ten minutes long and there isn't a word spoken, but the point it makes is eloquent, And maybe it's message is particularly powerful during this time of the year.
Jesus tells us that a cup of cold water doesn't lose its reward. We have no idea the good that He can accomplish with our small acts of giving and kindness.