Two posts in one week, I know what ever will you all do? I just had to post this thought though because it’s really been bugging me over the last few days.
I am pretty sure everyone already has it figured out, especially if you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time. I mean my title makes it obvious what I’m about to give my comment about, especially given the geo-political climate today. So much to talk about, so many ways to look at current situations across the globe in in our own back yard, so many people and nationalities to be frustrated with.
Matthew 6:2-4 (NLT)
2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.
3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.
4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
You all think you know me so well. A few things have happened in the last few days that have brought this issue to the front of my mind and heart. We will take them in turn.
It goes without saying that the idea of a tithe, of giving is a Biblical principle, one that as a pastor is important to discuss, important to teach, and impossible to bring up without hurting feelings, angering, or being met with eye rolls. The struggle is to get people to understand the idea of giving because it’s what we should do because doing so is what Jesus says to do. More than once, but I digress.
A few days ago traveling on the toll road and listening to the local Christian station I heard something that made my teeth grind. The local personality was talking about a sponsored run that was going to benefit a local camp. Great idea, simple in it’s goal. Get sponsors so that when you run under-privileged, under-served kids could attend camp next Summer, average cost to send a child to this particular camp is $500.00 for the week. I think it’s great that the station and the camp area working together to benefit those that are less fortunate. Camp is one of those things that makes a big impact in a kids life. The disconnect came with two separate statements that were made.
Statement 1: Give you’re best gift… This statement bothers me. It actually brings to mind the observation Jesus made to his disciples when they were commenting about how much people were putting into the collection box. The idea behind having to make this statement is frustrating. Do we really have to be reminded to give our best? Is it really that hard for us to keep in mind that giving is not a show, or a way for a pat on the back. That giving out of our abundance is easy? Why would I give any less than my best? Wouldn’t giving less than our best be a slap in the face to the one who died for us? We should not need to be reminded to give our best. It should be second nature as a Christ Follower.
Statement 2: Giving to send a kid to camp gets you a tax deduction at the end of the year. Really so we give to get? We give not out of a deep need to follow Biblical principles, to honor God, or because it’s the right thing to do. We give the money to send a kid to camp because if we do at the end of the year we can get a tax deduction, the cost of giving doesn’t have to hurt that much. You give and then you get. What a great system, everybody wins. Except that’s not how it should work. When I give to send a kid to camp, or to help with the churches Kids Crusade, or to a person taking a missions trip, or to bring clean water and health care to people who need it, there shouldn’t be a calculation of how much I’m going to get in return. I shouldn’t look at giving as a way to better my own life.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an issue with tax deductions for charitable giving. We take the giving receipts we get at the end of the year and apply them to our taxes, but it’s not the reason to give, it’s good stewardship to do so and in doing so we are able to give more. We don’t use it as a carrot in church. Hey everyone, when you give a donation to the church we give you a tax receipt. Jesus gave because he loved, not for what he would get, I\in striving to be more like Christ we are to do the same.
The scripture that I started with speaks to this. Give in such a way that recognition, and gain are not readily available. Give because it’s a part of our calling as Christ followers, not because it’s a great way to prove to others that you are one. There are other ways that people should be able to see Jesus in our lives, our giving is not one of them, at least it shouldn’t be.