Giving. Generosity. Compassion. Benevolence. Alms.
Alright, enough of the vocabulary lesson. We have an obligation to give. What we have is not really ours. When God said for man to take dominion, He was not telling man, “Well, it’s all yours. Do what you want with it. I won’t get in your way.” He was telling mankind it was his to take care of, as well as enjoy and use to the fullest, yet not in a sense of ownership.
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.”
Oh, so that must mean that even everything I have…my house, car, money and all related stuff…is not really mine, only mine to use. So, when God asks me to give money, items, time…whatever…He is not asking for anything except for that which is already His.
As Christians…as men and women of God…we must not let our culture dictate our lives. We live in the Western Culture, more specifically, the United States, where the “American Dream” is mandate. Get good grades, go to college, get a job that pays well, buy a house, set up a comfortable retirement…the American Dream. Before I go any further, there is nothing essentially wrong with that. What makes it wrong is when it gets in the way of what we are to do with what God has so richly blessed us with. That is, perhaps that “extra” should go to feed someone or help someone having a tough time rather than fatten up our retirement account (be wise with a retirement account – just be sure that you don’t miss out on the opportunity to be a blessing to someone else when your needs are more than met).
I really believe that Christians should be the best tippers and the most generous donors. People should be glad that we came by, sat at their table or donated to their cause. An elderly woman can be grateful that some people from “that church down the way” came by and cleaned up her yard or painted her fence. The hard-working single mom can relax knowing that a group of people committed to pay her electric and gas bill for a few months. A physically challenged woman will enjoy knowing she has a ride to church each week.
Some of us make ends meet. Some of us struggle. Of course, there are some of us who do rather well. But, all of us, in some way or another have the means to be generous – with our finances (where your treasure is, your heart is), our resources and our time. I heard someone say that if the Church did her job in being supportive and generous (when I say, Church, I mean men and women of God, not the building, nor necessarily the organization or ministries), we would not need a welfare system, or at least not one nearly the size of the one we have.
“Oh, but look at all the ministries and organizations there are. Do we really need anymore?”
Yes. The ones we have could use more support, as well. Then, what can you do? Do you have the means to buy someone groceries? Are you able to pay someones bills to help them get out from behind? Can you take a single mother shopping to get her kids clothes for the school year? Hmmm…let’s go bigger. How about getting someone’s house painted, giving someone a lawnmower, getting their car repaired (getting them a better car), getting a household repair done or buying someone groceries once a month?
Do you have the time and room to take someone to the doctor, grocery shopping or to church, who does not drive? Would you take in someone who needs a place to stay and a family to be with (we did this and we really don’t have the room – and we would do it again in a minute)? Are you able to roll up your sleeves and rake, paint, clean or sweep? Would you take the time to visit someone who has been cut off from the world (elderly, stay-at-home moms, sick/shut-ins)?
“Well, I tithe to my church. I’ve given my 10%. That’s enough.”
Really? And, where in the Bible do you read that? Read further and you will find words like, “offerings” and “alms”. We also read our obligations to those in need…Proverbs 14:21, Leviticus 19:9-10, Luke 3:10-11, 1st John 3:17, to name a few. Yeah, go ahead, look them up.
In Acts 4, we read how people laid the proceeds from land sales and other extra monies at the feet of the apostles so that no one would have need. First of all, this is not a Biblical example of socialism. They were not selling everything they had, they were not dividing assets so that all were “equal”. It was simply that people who had an abundance gave up some of it so that those who had need could be taken care of (Side note: This also shows how the apostles weren’t all about being great orators, holding apostles conferences or strutting along a stage, preaching, like some sort of sanctimonious peacock – they were making sure that people’s needs were being met – their ministry was about people.). Too often, we might refer someone to a public help agency when we, whether individuasl or a group of us, likely have the means to give someone a hand. Honestly, I think the one of the most important ministries in a local church is the one that helps, feeds and clothes people.
There is so much we can all do. We often think there is someone else out there giving their money, giving their time, giving their talent – well, is it enough? If it were enough, why are there so many needs going unmet?
Unlock your wallets. Take the bars off your doors. Stop worrying about the upholstery in your car. Take a little extra time for someone else. Pray and ask God what you can do. We all can do more.
Be a real giver.