7 Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver. 8 God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work. 9 As it is written, He scattered everywhere; he gave to the needy; his righteousness remains forever. 2 Corinthians 9:7-9, CEB
(We’re in the middle of a series on sacrifice for people in recovery that starts on Day 1. Get caught up or you may feel lost.)
How, do we figure out how to sacrifice thoughtfully?
- Sacrifice done for the sake of others should always be something that legitimately benefits the other person.
The second step in figuring out how to sacrifice thoughtfully and/or appropriately is to consider whether or not our “help” legitimately benefits another person. For instance, a friend of mine recently asked for some money because his family is going through a tough time. In this particular case, my friend has a job and his wife has a job, and they’re stable and responsible people who know how to spend money wisely and take care of their children in the process. They simply had some unexpected bills that set them back at a difficult time of the year. Because I know them so well and trust them as I do, and because people are so generous to me, I had no problem giving a bit of money.
But, let’s do a hypothetical. What if this was a person who was addicted and not in recovery? What if he had a habit of asking for money and then going off the grid for a few days (likely on a bender)? In other words, what if I had a reasonable suspicion that this money was simply supplying a habit?
Those of us in recovery have either been the kinds of people who know how to tell tall tales in order to get money to use or we’re the kind of people who gladly accept tall tales so that we can soothe our anxiety through the giving of money. Sometimes the tall tale is a mysterious car repair, or a shockingly high water bill because the neighbor hooked his hose up to my house to steal water for his yard. Or, someone at work stole my wallet so I don’t have any money for food. Etc. etc.
We may convince ourselves that giving money is helpful because the person needs to repair the car, pay the water bill, or buy food. But, at this point, we should learn to be suspicious of these kinds of stories. When we’re suspicious, we have to ask ourselves if giving the money truly benefits the other person. Does giving an addict cash truly support recovery? Likely not. We may feel better about giving them money because we’re concerned for their well-being, but if it doesn’t actually help the other person then it is not truly a sacrifice.
This is why a core criteria for whether or not we are responsibly sacrificing is asking ourselves, Does this support recovery or does it support addiction?
The answer is complicated. We’re not always going to get it right. We can lean towards the side of grace and generosity but, when we do so, we should also seriously consider that we might also be hurting the other person and, therefore, return to yesterday’s warning about what happens when we disguise codependency in spiritual language.