“Every man must render to God the things that are God’s and that let it be remembered is all that he is and all he possesses. How are all things sanctified to us, but in the separation and dedication of them to God? Are they not all his talents, and must be employed in his service? Must not every Christian first ask, In what way may I most honour God with my substance? Do we preach these things to our people?”
Richard Baxter in The Reformed Pastor (The Religious Tract Society: London, England 1982) 77.
“The Hasidim tell the story of the visitor who went to see a very famous rabbi and was shocked at the sparcity, the bareness, the emptiness of his little one-room house. ‘Why don’t you have any furniture?’ the visitor asked. ‘Why don’t you?’ the rabbi said. ‘Well, because I’m only passing through,’ the visitor said. ‘Well, so am I,’ the rabbi answered.
On the journey to heaven, things tie us to the earth. We can’t move to another city because we have a huge mortgage on the house in this one. We can’t take care of a sick neighbor because we are too busy taking care of our own hedges. We go poor giving parties in the hope for big promotions. We get beholden to the people who give big parties back. We take things and hoard things and give things to control our little worlds and the things wind up controlling us. They clutter our space; they crimp our hearts; they sour our souls.
Benedict says that the answer is that we not allow ourselves to have anything beyond life’s simple staples in the first place and that we not use things–not even the simplest things–to restrict the life of another by giving gifts that tie another person down. Benedictine simplicity, then, is not a deprivation. It frees us for all of life’s surprises.”
Joan Chittister in The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages (Slough: St. Paul’s 1992) 108.
“I do not believe one can settle on 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, amusements, 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 charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them.”
“A brother asked an old man, ‘Will you let me put two pieces of money aside in case I should be ill?’ The old man replied, ‘It is not good to keep more than is necessary for the body. If you keep these two pieces of money your hope will be placed in then, and if misfortune comes to you, God will no longer look after you’ Let us throw all our care on God, for he cares for us.”
Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, eds. The Monastic Way: Ancient Wisdom for Contemporary Living – A Book of Daily Readings (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007) 91.