Budget 2019: Who can we open wide our hand to this year?
When we think of this significant speech that takes place around the same time every year, naturally we anticipate the goodies that will be given out. A hongbao is always welcome.
Delivered by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in Parliament yesterday, there was indeed a S$1.1 billion Bicentennial Bonus to be shared with Singaporeans as the nation commemorates a milestone – 200 years since Sir Stamford Raffles landed on our shores.
But beyond that, a Bicentennial Community Fund of S$200 million was unveiled to encourage more Singaporeans to embrace the spirit of giving back to the community through dollar-for-dollar matching of donations.
While the minister talked about the strategic plan to allocate resources to keep our home safe and secure, transform our economy and make Singapore a global city, one of the key themes this year was also about building a caring and inclusive society.
Three main strategies were discussed:
- Uplifting Singaporeans to provide better access to opportunities, in particular children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Strengthening the support for healthcare needs, especially for seniors through the Merdeka Generation Package.
- Fostering a community of care and contribution.
On the 3rd point, measures will be put in place to mobilise more volunteers among youth, seniors as well as public service officers.
“We strive to nurture an ethos in our society, where we support one another, and give a helping hand where we can. Those who succeed should help to uplift others, just as they have benefitted from the support of others around them,” said Heng.
BUT WHAT ABOUT ME
It’s the nature of the pecking order – there’ll always be someone doing better than us, but we can be sure that there’ll also be people who are far more in need.
“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'” (Deuteronomy 15:11 ESV)
Are we using our resources – what is in our hands – to do what God has called us to do?
The biblical principle of generosity reminds us that justice, mercy and faithfulness are central things in God’s eyes (Matthew 23:23). Can He see these values growing in us?
Generosity changes the way we see, and who we see.
“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)
As God stirs in our heart to do justice and love mercy (Micah 6:8), we cannot afford to neglect those who we can open wide our hand to.
We could be avoiding doing all the “wrong” things like spending on big-ticket, luxury items, yet never actually invest in the people and things that matter to God.
Who can we open wide our hand to? What cause can we contribute towards?
Everything we have – whether much or little compared to the person next to us – comes from God’s providence. How will we be generous this year?