I was recently traveling through Paris, France and I stopped by a “parfumerie”, a store that specializes in selling various types perfume. In France, they take perfume very seriously. In fact, this particular store had a running digital sign with stock prices of perfume hanging on the wall. It seems a little excessive to care so much about an item that is simply used to make a person smell good, especially when “smelling good” is a very subjective term. However, it reminded me of a story in the Bible where a lady pours perfume over Jesus’ feet. She intended this act as something that would honor Jesus, but a nearby man got upset with her and even asked, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?” These seems like a great question, especially since all of the perfume she had used was monetarily equivalent to one years’ wages in that time period. In the store in Paris I saw several bottles that, especially in certain regions of the world, were worth one years’ worth of wages. The interesting background of the story, however, is that the man challenging her decision to pour the perfume didn’t actually care about the poor in the first place. He was more concerned with keeping the money for himself.
This illustration makes a great point about really caring for the poor. In my experience, caring for the poor starts with a spirit of generosity. We can always find an excuse for why we should not help the poor, or reasons for not getting involved. But ultimately it gets down to whether we have a generous heart or not. I have found that a person who is passionately engaged in helping the poor does not count pennies, but rather are simply generous and gracious people. They see a need and want to help, but also not at the exclusion of enjoying life. I love that concept. I am personally very passionate about helping the poor, but I do not feel guilt-ridden after eating a good meal or enjoying the blessings that I have. I truly feel that these two things do not need to be mutually exclusive. In fact, some of the best experiences I’ve had in life were times when I was enjoying a great meal with someone who didn’t have the means to buy food for themselves. I want to always have a generous spirit, and I believe that has little to do with the amount of money that I have in my bank account. Rather, I think it has much more to do with the condition of my heart. My philosophy toward having and developing a spirit of generosity is:
“If you see a need and you think you should help, then help.” It’s as simple as that.
About the Author:
Ian Vickers is a co-founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Global Partners in Hope. He has over 20 years of international development experience, having lived and worked abroad much of his career. Ian has an educational background in Intercultural studies (B.S.) and Leadership (M.A.) and is fluent in both French and English. Ian and his wife Joanna live in Omaha, Nebraska near their three children.