Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. (Psalm 112:5)

I hate lending out my stuff. The last time I loaned out a book I didn’t get it back for months, and when it did find its way back to me it looked like it had been through a nuclear holocaust. The pages were soiled, the cover was torn, and the binding was trashed. And then there was the time I reluctantly let somebody borrow my car. It came back without damage, but the gas tank was empty and the interior smelled like McDonald’s french fried grease for weeks. I just about puked every time I got in. And then there was the time I handed over twenty bucks to a hard-pressed friend who quickly forgot my kindness. And then there was the time somebody actually asked to borrow a shirt (yes, the proverbial shirt off my back) and returned it as a wrinkled ball of B.O. And then there was the time I actually lent out my own house so somebody could have a party there. After the successful gala, everybody departed leaving me to clean up the mess.

And then there are the street corner panhandlers who stand there with sad faces and cardboard signs. They are stranded. They are homeless. They are veterans. They are the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, the wretched refuse. They look at me as I walk by. They stare at me through my windshield. They ask me if I can spare some change. Hell no, you scumbag, I think to myself. But to be polite I just ignore them. Or if I’m lucky and have no actual change (paper currency doesn’t count) I can smile sorrowfully and say that I’m tapped for change at the moment. Honesty is a comforting policy when you can use it.

What’s the point of having stuff if you have to lend it out? Having stuff is the whole point of having stuff, isn’t it? Otherwise there’s no point in having stuff at all. As usual, it’s the folks who don’t have stuff who want everybody else’s stuff. But once they get some stuff of their own they aren’t quite so eager to pass it off again I’ll bet.

Generosity is a big thing in the Bible. But the Bible was written mostly by a bunch of poor fishermen who never had nice stuff in the first place. No wonder they wanted people to hand over the merchandise. King Solomon wrote some of the Bible too, but he was rich and understood the importance of having stuff. Solomon wrote “Having lots of money protects the rich, but having no money destroys the poor.” Now that guy knew what he was talking about. The reason the poor are poor in the first place is that they don’t have any money. How obvious can you get? If poor people would get their own stuff they wouldn’t have to ask to use somebody else’s. Talk about wisdom. The Bible is full of it.

The Bible also says, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Well, it’s not exactly in the Bible per se. Actually, Shakespeare wrote that in Hamlet, but that’s almost as good as being in the Bible. God would most likely have used that saying if he’d thought of it. The point is that even though the Bible says we should be generous, it’s just not that great of an idea. I, for one, haven’t gotten a lot of  “good” out of the deal. I’m not saying the Bible can’t be trusted every so often, but even a religious person has to look out for himself once in a while.

By the way, if my aforementioned “friend” happens to be reading this, I want my twenty bucks back ASAP.


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