In the long past, I used to fuss over apparently rich people who would refuse to help the poor around them. In fact, I had blamed the condition of life I was in on the fact that the rich I knew were not going to help with my financial burdens of the past. Jim Rohn said in one of his seminars, ‘I used to blame my neighbours. They never gave me a loan.’ Could this have been your situation or perhaps is? Well, good news is there is no amount of fussing that will help you. You are reading here a truth which does not respect who is subject to it. It is a law that rewards as well as punish the rich and the poor depending on how they use it. But the sum of it is thus: If the rich truly want to help the poor, it is not in giving the poor daily means of subsistence but in empowering the poor with the right mindset, skills and leverage to create their own success.’ No man can be useful to the society anymore than he has been useful to himself.
Earl Nightingale said, ‘The society is so arranged not as to keep the strong from winning but to keep the weak from losing.’ It may come shocking to you to learn that poverty is perpetuated exactly by the mentality that it is the rich’s burden to give the poor such alms as supply them their daily food only. Usually, the poor suggests this within their poverty mentality; and the rich who do it religiously are in the work of cleansing their own guilt. The poor who suggest this kind of charity are in the habit of complaining and blaming their poverty-stricken conditions on the lack of pity of the rich. The rich who perform this act necessarily announce their alms on the streets and fail to really take away the problem. What is more? The mental image that is circulating in the society by virtue of these kinds of charity is poverty. Let me take the old parable of the blessed Rabbi thousands of years ago to make this point clear.
Remember the parable of poor Lazarus, the rich man and Abraham. What an intrigue! The conventional approach to this story was that the rich man was unfair to Lazarus because he failed to give Lazarus from his riches. But that is far from it. In fact, the reason why the rich man was in hell was because of the manner in which he shared with Lazarus. Let us understand it clearly. The rich man gave to Lazarus just as people expect the rich to give to the poor today.
* The rich man gave Lazarus the crumbs dropping from his table. This was enough to feed Lazarus. It was, as Earl puts it, ‘keeping Lazarus from losing to abject hunger.’ We could imagine how plentiful the table of the rich man would be. Certainly not that which its crumbs could not feed a man. What do you think the crumbs of his table would weight who feasted sumptuously?
* The rich man gave Lazarus an abode at his gate. It is easy for us to see what we want to think, but we should do better. Lazarus was not a homeless kind of guy. Lazarus had an abode of his, a stable place; somewhere which although does not speak of comfort, yet puts Lazarus in his comfort zone. But it was provided by this rich man anyway. It was the rich man’s gate.
* It might surprise you to know that the dog licking the sore of Lazarus was not a bad picture as people chose to see it. I wonder why people think the idea of a dog licking Lazarus’ sore was a poor treatment of Lazarus. It was more of a favour, a kind of treatment offered to him — albeit a treatment that keeps the body of the poor fellow from giving way to the dis-ease afflicting him. When dogs lick sores slightly, they may be helping in its healing and protecting it against certain bacterial infections. Modern science is past this stage and of course it is not adviced, not even safe due to other conditions; but that was certainly a method in those days of these two characters.
Let’s face the fact: the rich man was helping Lazarus all he would. He was helping Lazarus to not lose in life. He was doing exactly what the poor expect the rich to do for them today. People expect the rich folks to give them something which, as they get for free, they would naturally have begged for. They expect the rich folk to show a kind of favour, and some even go a step further to expect that the rich will know they expect it of them. I guess someone is reading this now and thinking, ‘What do you mean? Should people die poor?’ Isn’t that just one of my points? That the rich is by this type of charity exercise rather keeping the poor stuck in life. That is what I mean. That giving a man subsistence is not the same as giving him life, nor is it respecting his personality. The only people on earth who expect to be given and receive as expected ‘subsistence’ are slaves.
I do not write nor say that the rich should never give to the poor. Nor do I write to say that the rich should be ruthless and mean. In fact, the truly successful is also the most compassionate in any group of people. The lesson is far removed from those conclusions. The point is this. If we truly want to help a poor person in life, we do not give them what they will eat today so they come back tomorrow. Fine, that might be necessary for a day or two. But let it be no more than three-day. Let it lead not to dependence. Extending it beyond that puts them in the position of begging you always. It is becoming a slave experience for them, and you could well be the rich man in Lazarus’s life thereby — for you are somehow keeping them poor.
Learn to give to the poor not because you want to help them in poverty but because you want them to be rich as you are.
This is the lesson from the parable.
Some people who think they are successful are eager to give the poor who come to beg for food and an abode. Compare this to Lazarus’ case. Of course, they can never give someone what will be sufficient for them, in the sense that however much it might be, it will fall below the mark of making such a person sustain themselves. It is the leftover that is given. No man can use leftovers to progress in life. The substance which ought to be given itself is often not given to many: the wisdom, capital and leverage by which they may create their own wealth. Keeping people dependent on you is not true alms. True alms free the way for the prosperity of others.
Let us draw comparison with the givings of Jesus. We hardly read the man gave beggars on the streets gold or bread. Not even at all. Rather, he gave the multitude sound teachings by which ‘all things shall be added unto’ them. In cases where he fed people for the fact that they must be exceedingly weak to fend for themselves (truly helpless in their state), he had in fact first fed them with the laws of life, the words divine. The parables where he taught giving to people, he taught that those to whom alms should be done are those who would be helpless in themselves. Strangers, the fatherless, the destitute of clothes and food. Of course, whilst we give them the necessities, we must bear not to give them dependence. We must help them to be established. That is how we can respect their persons.
Does this mean you should not give? Not at all. In fact, it means you should give liberally. It means to give as richly as possible. Give not to help a person in poverty but to bring a person to riches.
When we truly desire to give people out of love, that is in order that those we give may have abundance, we learn that giving them all of our possessions will not help them; giving them the wisdom by which they can do for themselves what we have done surpasses the relinquishing of our riches to them. For riches may fly but enduring wealth dwells with wisdom.
What is the surest way the rich can keep society poor? Giving only the daily needs of the poor to them. What is the definite way to bring abundance to all in the society? Teach and guide all people to know the laws of money. Was this not what the old Babylonian king commissioned Arkad, the richest man in Babylon, to do? Was this not how the entire country of Babylon had many rich people, that even slaves had property?