“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” – Luke 12:48
A few years ago, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two of the world’s wealthiest individuals, issued a challenge to their fellow multi-billionaires to give away a significant portion of their wealth, as they had committed to do. And while it would be presumptuous to assume they had been directly influenced by the above passage from the Gospel of Luke, it would also be presumptuous to assume they were not. The fact of the matter is I don’t know what if anything influenced their philanthropy except that they seem to understand that along with their extreme good fortune comes extreme responsibility. Other than that, I am hesitant to speculate much about the motives of these two gentlemen since I do not know either one personally, nor do I know much about their personal values or beliefs.
Regardless of their motives, though, it is encouraging what these men did by making a public statement about their wealth that ultimately says it is not theirs to keep but to give away – and to give away for the benefit of the greater good of mankind. At an even deeper level their message is all but an admission that their wealth had never been theirs to begin with, but a gift, their extreme philanthropy being a public recognition of that.
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded . . .” is not a message intended exclusively for the mega-wealthy, though. It applies to all of us; for we have all been blessed in some way with more than enough. And just as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet seemed to have recognized, it is not for us to keep but to give away. Some have been blessed with financial wealth, some have physical strength and energy, some with special talents, others have wisdom, and most of us at the very least have the ability to offer a smile or an encouraging word. Whatever our gifts, talents, or resources might be, they have been entrusted to us not just for ourselves but for the greater good of humanity. What a privilege to be called to offer our God-given gifts for such a purpose!