CHRISTIAN COMMENT: Better to give?

“STEPHEN Hester turns down million pound bonus.” Good news or bad news?

Bad for Mr Hester presumably. Good for the nation? I’ve no idea.

But the struggle goes on as to whether bankers should get the huge amounts they do.

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And, it continues to flag up our obsession with wealth.

There’s no doubt that there’s a lot of money still about.

But there’s also a great shortage of it.

The RBS squabble is – to my mind – a sideshow, despite taking up a huge amount of media and parliamentary time.

The question is not ‘Is the bonus too big?’ but ‘What sort of bank is RBS meant to be?’

If it’s a state-owned bank (and the government does hold 83 per cent of the shares) then, logically, the boss is just a civil servant.

He should be paid in line with others of similar rank.

If the bank is being prepared as a leading-edge commercial bank, ready to be sold to the highest bidder, then its salaries and bonuses need to be in line with those being paid elsewhere – otherwise no banker from the private sector will be interested.

So let’s decide what we’re dealing with and the rest (bonuses, share issues, etc.) will follow.

No, I’m much more concerned with the pressure to get vast amounts for nothing while at the same time so many are suffering real financial hardship.

On the day the Mansfield couple won £41milllion in the Euro Lottery, there was a further raft of news about charities that were having to slim down or close as a result of funding shortfalls.

Every report I came across – from art charities, care groups for young and old, counselling groups, etc. – referred to the real effect of the cuts.

And the amounts were often small compared to the Lottery winnings. £5k here, £17K there – nothing next to headlines like “We made 25 new millionaires on December 23”.

Just one of the bigger Lottery wins could support several of the smaller charities for decades – and improve thousands of lives.

What can be done about this?

Tax winnings for charitable purposes? I don’t think so.

Reduce the amount of winnings? Possibly but that gets very complicated to manage.

Shame winners into giving? Bad idea – unless you want to raise levels of resentment already out there.

No. What you have to have is a change of heart.

I love it when some of these winners indicate that they are going to give most of their pot away. Jesus was spot on when he said “You’ll be far happier if you have a mind set to give rather than receive”.

God wants us to be happy. And he says that there are routes to being happy.

One is to give away what is surplus to our real needs.

I hope that Stephen Hester feels this is a good day.

This week’s Christian Comment is by Nigel O’Dwyer. He leads Goring new Life Baptist Church and lives and works in Worthing.