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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Palm Sunday Reflection: C. S. Lewis on "charity"

In the passage where the New Testament says that every one must work, it gives as a reason ‘in order that he may have something to give to those in need.’ Charity– giving to the poor– is an essential part of Christian morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats it seems to be the point on which everything turns.

Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce this kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality.

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusement, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our giving does not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say it is too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our commitment to giving excludes them.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1952/2001), 86.



Anonymous said...

There is a certain irony to Larry James quoting C.S. Lewis.

Larry James said...

How so, Anon 7:38?

Anonymous said...

As is so often the case with quotes from CS Lewis, my first response is "ouch!"