This is what $191 looks like in cash.
This is what $191 looks like in cash.

SPIRITUAL MATTERS: What does cash have to do with generosity?

SO THIS is what $191 looks like – in cold, hard cash. Well, not all in cold, hard cash for there’s some coloured plastic bits that are really cold or hard to the touch.

Actually, in the current climate of COVID-19, cash is on the nose. Most commercial operations are encouraging us to tap our plastic cards rather than hand over notes or coins. The rationale? Cash is dirty – it carries germs – and lots of them. And germs are not welcome lest they take the form of those nasty little COVID bugs.

But I digress. The reason the coinage in the photo is significant is that it illustrates love, and generosity – and speaks about sharing resources and donating to worthy causes.

These coins arrived in a plastic bag and tiny money boxes resembling jerry cans in which aviation fuel (or any other fuel for that matter) is stored and transported. The logo is that of MAF – Mission Aviation Fellowship – and the contents earmarked for the work of that amazing organization as it provides aerial transport in the most remote parts of the world. Remote, yes, and operating in some of the most dangerous and challenging flying conditions known to man; all in the service of the most disadvantaged communities, and in the name of Jesus Christ.

As MAF’s Northern NSW advocate, I have counted the coins and stacked them in little piles for accounting and banking purposes. As I did so, I felt a succession of small lumps form in my throat. It was an emotional experience for I felt the love that was represented by every coin set aside by the giver, felt the love born of a desire to partner with others in reaching out to the poorest and most isolated communities in the world.

In reality, each coin is a love-gift to God and others – entrusted to MAF, a voluntary organization that is often described as the biggest small airline in the world as it operates its 150 aircraft in 33 different countries, up to their wingtips in sacrificial service to Christian workers, government agencies and the medical profession.

This pile of coins emanated from a number of different givers. Not one of them wealthy by the world’s standards, but all bound by a common desire to serve others by regularly putting aside loose change that, when combined with other donations, add up to become a significant factor in reaching out in love to those whose needs are greater than ours.

It always reminds me of that memorable occasion when Jesus was visiting the temple in Jerusalem. He paused at the entrance to observe the showy, boastful practice of those with wealth making a big deal of placing their contributions to the upkeep of the temple into the money boxes there. They wanted others to know how much they were giving.

But in truth, their lavish gestures hid the fact that what they gave was a pittance – a mere fraction of the wealth they had accumulated for themselves. Jesus saw through the charade.

What did impress him however, was the sight of a poverty-stricken widow who humbly and nervously dropped a couple of coins into the box. Jesus turned to his disciples and told them that this poor widow had contributed more than all the others. The disciples were incredulous. Had Jesus lost the plot?

But then he explained that the poor widow had given the last two coins she had. She had nothing left for herself. And with that, he probably wiped a tear from his eye.

Unconditional love will always be the most important motivator for our generosity to others. That alone impresses Jesus.