Several years ago the news media carried announcements about two persons who made generous gifts to enhance the education of young people. Bill Gates, who at the time was believed to be the richest man in the world, announced gifts of $1 billion to provide full scholarships for minority students seeking undergraduate and advanced degrees. The gifts were called “earth shattering” and “landscape changing” by the head of the United Negro College Fund, which was called upon to administer the scholarships.
The same week that Gates’ gift was announced, the newspapers carried the obituary of a woman whose gift to higher education was not as large but also had a great impact. Four years before her death, Oceola McCarty gave $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi in her hometown of Hattiesburg. This money amounted to nearly every penny she had saved over a lifetime as a washerwoman. Ms. McCarty said at the time of the donation that she did not need the money and that she hoped her gift would mean “that the children won’t have to work so hard, like I did.”1 The amount was only a fraction of what Bill Gates gave; but her act inspires us all to be more generous, regardless of our net worth.
In today’s lesson Paul encourages us to give generously as a response to Jesus’ example of total unselfishness so that “by his poverty [we] might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).