My mailbox yields weekly solicitations from charitable organizations seeking cash. So many worthwhile causes, but in the interest of financial responsibility I cannot respond to every request. The flood of open hands swells with the holiday season.
Some charitable concerns shamelessly employ guilt to garner donations. We’ve all received the envelope with the token free gift along with a reminder that postage is not free. We’re invited to accept the gift with no strings attached but urged to make our check large enough to cover shipping. Then there’s the overt guilt-bomb solicitation with glossy pictures of less fortunate humans coupled with the not-so-subtle message, “You pig. You ate a meal today, and this person did not! Open that wallet. Log on and input your credit card information. Now!”
Years ago I donated money to a university to help cover the cost of a friend’s summer mission adventure. The boy graduated years ago but requests continue to arrive from myriad departments, sub-colleges, and special projects at that school. I wonder if charities track those who give and subject them to more intense solicitations.
What about the bizarre non-profits? I have no interest in the mating habits of the Gobi Desert Swamp Whale. I have no idea why you think I care. A pox on whoever shared my contact information with you. Did Charity X profit twice, first by my generous contribution and then a second time by selling my contact information to Charity Y?
We’re strafed until sensitivity lessens and anti-giving callouses form across our hearts. Unfortunately those callouses travel to church with us. Ever heard a sermon on tithing? Was a plea made to forgo lunch to swing by the fellowship hall to enjoy a red rubber hot dog with proceeds helping the youth attend camp? Any mention of an outreach organization in a critical financial state? The requests and needs seem unending.
Just between us, does your wallet pucker at those moments?
Relax. God does not need our money. In fact the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “…God loves a cheerful giver.” God’s concern is for the state of my heart, not the wad of bills in my pocket or the balance in my checking account.
Giving should be an act of worship. It’s my chance to marvel at God’s generosity and thank Him for sharing with me as I in turn share with others. There’s no obligation to fulfill or box to check on a list of religious behaviors. Giving is my free expression of how I feel about God. I’m not repaying Him for anything or attempting to earn His favor. I’m just telling Him in a tangible way, “I love You, Lord.”
Scripture records a notable collection, and I return to read the account often. Nothing softens my anti-giving callouses like watching others as they bask in the joy of generosity. In the context God commanded Israel to build a tabernacle in His honor. The finances and materials for the structure would come from donations, but pay attention to the restrictions on who could give:
“… whoever is of a willing heart…”
Exodus 35:5 NASB Selected
Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the LORD’S contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments. Exodus 35:21 NASB
Was the campaign successful? Did Moses apply regular arm-twisting to remind the group of the financial short-falls? Here’s the scoop:
And all the skillful men who were performing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work which he was performing, and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the LORD commanded us to perform.” So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, “Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more. For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it. Exodus 36:4-7 NASB
Imagine that! Generous hearts overflowed with the urgency to complete the tabernacle. Years later King David desired to replace the temporary tabernacle with a permanent temple. Again the need for finances was placed before the people. The king led by example and the collection was astounding. Note the attitude of the givers.
Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the LORD with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly.
1 Chronicles 29:9 NASB
As David offered his thanksgiving prayer over the massive collection, he shared an insight that will keep our giving fresh.
But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You.
1 Chronicles 29:14 NASB
Giving is part of managing what God provides. All of it comes from Him and belongs to Him. I can decline a solicitation without guilt. I can give as my heart moves.
The underlying key to giving is my attitude in the process. Who am I trying to honor?