Thomas Aquinas: Suitable expenses and seasonable giving

“It belongs to liberality [generosity] particularly, not to be held back by any inordinate affection for money from any right use of the same. Now there is a twofold use of money: one upon oneself — a matter of personal expenses; another upon others — a matter of gifts. It belongs therefore to liberality, not to be held back by immoderate love of money either from suitable expenses or from suitable gifts. Hence liberality is conversant with gifts and expenses.”

“It belongs to liberality to use money seasonably, and therefore seasonably to give it away, which is one use of money. Now every virtue is distressed at what is contrary to its act, and avoids hinderances thereto. But to seasonable giving two things are opposed: not giving where there is occasion for a seasonable gift, and giving unseasonably. Hence liberality is distressed at both the one proceeding and the other, but more at the former, because it is more opposed to its own proper act.”
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in Summa Theologica, Secunda Secundae, Question CXVII “Of Liberality” Articles 3-4.

Thomas Aquinas rightly notes that liberality (or generosity) should “not be held back by any inordinate affection for money” and that the right use of the same is “suitable” expenses and “seasonal” giving. Notice that “not giving” and “giving unseasonably” are not options for followers of Christ. The right use of money is not to be attached to it or stockpile it in season but to spend it on “suitable” expenses and “seasonable” gifts. That means spend it on what you need (cf. 1 Timothy 6:6-10) and as God provides more than what you need, give generously (cf. 1 Timothy 6:17-19).

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