(12) Personal spending is limited to what is necessary for our health and well-being and that of our dependants. We aim to stay free from all attachment to wealth, keeping ourselves constantly aware of the poverty in the world and its claim on us. We are concerned more for the generosity that gives all, rather than for the value of poverty in itself. In this way we reflect in spirit the acceptance of Jesus’ challenge to sell all, give to the poor, and follow him.We should limit our spending to necessities. But the Principles explain that these include whatever is needed for our well-being and that of those around us. This is about human flourishing not bare existence, about living generously rather than abstemiously.
The Principles speak of (material) poverty’s claim on us; we are called to combat it with our generosity. And that means not just alleviating incidences of poverty that we encounter, but joining together to attack the root causes of poverty.
I am inclined to think of generosity as the positive counterpart of poverty of spirit. Poverty of spirit not only recognizes our radical dependence on others but embraces and celebrates that dependence. We no longer see that dependence as something to be feared and so we are free reach out to those beyond our self-made barriers. It is in that reaching out and sharing with others (rather than hoarding things to ourselves) that generosity is born.