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From the Summer 2013 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

The Generous Heart and Life of C.S. Lewis

by Joel S. Woodruff, Ed.D.
Vice President of Discipleship & Outreach, C.S. Lewis Institute

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  It was from deep within his own personal experience that Lewis wrote, “For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear—fear of insecurity.”12 However, Lewis, in surrendering his life to Christ, consistently sought to overcome this insecurity by trusting God and giving generously, the antidote to fear, worry,
and materialism.
  Lewis gave us some wise advice about how much we should give.  

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusement, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our giving does not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say it is too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our commitment to giving excludes them.13

  At the end of Lewis’s life, his total estate was worth only £37,772. Not a great deal considering the amount of money, royalties, that had passed through Lewis’s bank accounts, including his Agape Fund.
  On December 7, 1963, at the memorial service for C.S. Lewis in the Chapel of Magdalen College, Oxford, Austin Farrar, Lewis’s good friend and pastor, said this about Lewis:

His characteristic attitude to people in general was one of consideration and respect. He did his best for them and he appreciated them. He paid you the compliment of attending to your words.  He did not pretend to read your heart. He was endlessly generous. He gave without stint, to all who seemed to care for them, the riches of his mind and the effort of his wit: and where there was need, he gave his money. I will not say what I know about his charities. When he had entered into any relationship his patience and his loyalty were inexhaustible. He really was a Christian—by which I mean, he never thought he had the right to stop.14

  Lewis’s model of generous living is an example for us today as we seek to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave all for us and commanded us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33 ESV).

1. C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950; repr. New York: Harper Collins, 1994), 1.
2. C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (London: Fontana, 1955), 182.
3. Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis: A Complete Guide to His Life and Works (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996), 65.
4. Austin Farrer, “In His Image,” in C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table, ed. James Como.
5. C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, ed. Walter Hooper (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), 836.
6. Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy (New York: Harper Collins, 1977), 121.
7. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (1952; repr. New York: Touchstone, 1996), 169.
8. C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (1942; repr. New York: Macmillan, 1976), 130–131.
9 Lewis, Mere Christianity, 82.
10. C.S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 105–106 (October 26, 1962).
11. Hooper, C.S. Lewis, 102.
12. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 82.
13. Ibid.
14. Hooper, C.S. Lewis, 120.

Joel S. Woodruff, Ed.D. Vice President of Discipleship & Outreach has worked in education, “tent-making,” nonprofit administration, and pastoral ministry in Alaska, Israel, Hungary, France, and Virginia. He served as a Dean and professor at European Bible Institute, and worked for Oakwood Services International before coming to CSLI. He has a B.A from Wheaton College, M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.
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