While you’re giving, give away the bad stuff too

Remember the story of Jesus and the rich man? In Chapter 10 of Mark’s Gospel, there is a heartbreaking story of a wealthy man who wanted to know when he had done enough to get into heaven. Filled with sincerity and confidence, the man told Jesus that he had followed all the commandments since he was a boy, and he wanted to know what else he needed to do.

Never ask Jesus a question unless you’re prepared for an honest answer. Jesus, who loved the man deeply, told him the truth: sell everything, give it to the poor and then come follow me. The man went away sad, for he had “many possessions.”

I think we all understand Jesus’ message. He is cautioning us not to be more in love with our earthly possessions than our eternal goods. However, I had a conversation this week that made me think there are some other things we need to “give away,” while we’re cleaning our Heavenly household. Perhaps it’s not enough to give away our goods, maybe we also need to give away our “bads.”

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the paradox of giving. The more we give the more we get back, and that the surest cure for depression, anxiety, anger, et al, is to give the opposite to someone else. The more we give, the more we gain. But this week, I’m thinking there is even more to it than that. Perhaps giving our anger, our depression, our fears, and our sadness to our neighbor is exactly what they need. Maybe, just maybe, letting them help us through a bad spot strengthens our neighbor, and gives them a boost up Jacob’s ladder.

I could be wrong; and it doesn’t make sense, but then neither does the giving paradox.

What do you think?

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