Abba Poemen: You will not do it

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And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16

“A brother asked Abba Poemen, ‘An inheritance has been left me, what ought I to do?’ The old man said to him, ‘Go, come back in the three days, and I will tell you.’ So he returned as it had been decided. Then the old man said, ‘What shall I say to you brother? If I tell you to give it to the church; they will make banquets with it; if I tell you to give it to your relations you will not receive any profit from it; if I tell you to give it to the poor, you will not do it. Do as you like, it is none of my business.”

Abba Poemen (340-450) Egyptian Coptic Monk in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection, trans. Benedicta Ward (Kalamazoo: Cisterian, 1975) 172.

Often people ask me questions like ‘What should give to?’ or ‘How much should I give’?

My tendency with my answers is to try to help people to understand and obey the teachings of Jesus. I map out the reasons why they should follow God’s design for taking hold of abundant life.

Instead, from now I think on I will answer like this Desert Father.

I will present the realities related to giving to ministries and family members and the poor. Then I will tell them that likely they won’t listen anyway. Reverse psychology. And I will remind them that it’s their call.

Why? Each person has to give an account for his or her own stewardship.

And I guess there is another reason Abba Poemen’s answer excites me. I am tired of trying to convince modern-day hypocrites to stop storing up treasures on earth.

To awaken them I want to share truth and then boldly proclaim, ‘You will not do it’!