I want to write a few articles on giving. Many people discuss it, normally preachers from a pulpit, or some charity. I want to look at it from the perspective of a Christian layperson, which is the majority of the Christian world. What does God expect of us and why? After all, He is the Creator, can’t He just handle people’s needs? Before I go there I want to talk about what giving is not and what it is.
In U.S. culture there are two major points of view on giving, both of which are wrong, at least if one claims to be of the Christian faith, and many of these people do. First, there is the crowd that many call “liberals”. To be fair though, you can be liberally minded with money and have a “conservative” viewpoint. This view basically believes everyone should give their money away to those that have less. On the surface it sounds okay, except they believe people should be compelled to give their money, mostly out of the belief that people are naturally selfish. While also not totally wrong, that is not giving.
Taking something that belongs to someone else and giving it to another is not a form of giving. It’s a form of theft. Yes, we all like Robin Hood and would look to think of ourselves in that vein. Unfortunately, when you give away something you have not earned that’s not giving. Giving involves sacrifice. Giving means you are giving up something you earned, something you worked for, and you are giving it to someone who has done nothing to earn it. It is the very essence of the Gospel message. Grace, by its very nature, is given freely. So compelling others to “cough up the dough” is in no way virtuous. To be honest, it’s as selfish as those who have given nothing because you are taking the credit for an act you have not performed.
Then there is the second point of view. This view says giving occurs when you give what is yours, but it’s your stuff so you don’t have to give any of it if you don’t want to. While true, this is also very selfish and many who claim to be Christians hold to this. I mean, obviously it comes across on the surface as selfish, but then this same group will often push charities they “support”. Support is in quotes because oftentimes the louder the “givers” squawk the less they actually give. Giving, as I noted above, is sacrificial. The act of giving is also consistent. Giving a one time giant check to “Make a Wish” maybe admirable, but that isn’t a real sacrifice. The spirit of giving is on going. As I mentioned, giving is the act of Grace. Jesus did die once for our sins, but that one act gives eternally.
So giving is the consistent act of voluntarily giving up what you have earned to those who are in need and have done nothing to earn your favor. Notice I’ve mentioned nothing about percentages. That’s coming in my next article, and trust me, it is not at all what you are thinking.