Christianity and Giving

| February 16, 2011

One question I have long struggled with is “what does God think about charities/giving back?” Some may assume the answer is obvious…He’s supposed to be a God of never-ending love; of course He supports it. But that didn’t stop me from questioning if all my time devoted to causes and philanthropy was/is a waste. I worried my bleeding heart was not pleasing to Him.

Thankfully, He led me (by a seeming coincidence) to the book Crazy Love and scriptures that touched my heart (all quotes credited to the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan*).

First, “I believe He wants us to love others so much that we go to extremes to help them. I believe He wants us to be known for giving–of our time, our money, and our abilities–and to start a movement of “giving” churches.” 

Sadly, many people claiming to be Christians are really lukewarm in their faith. “Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church…as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living.” But if we want to live a life for Him we must trust Him.

“As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:1-4).

“A friend of mine was asked if he weren’t spending too much of his time serving and giving too much away. His gentle but honest response was, ‘I wonder if you’ll say that after we’re dead.’ Friends, we need to stop living selfish lives.” God has made it clear through Scripture that the first and greatest commandment is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind.” What does He deem to be second only to this? To “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-38).

Most of us have heard this before…but, have you ever really thought about it? I hadn’t. The Golden Rule has been twisted and overused so much in our society that, to me anyways, it lost some of its meaning. But Jesus was very clear: “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” (Luke 18:21).

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our heart condemn us. -I John 3:16-20

Read Matthew 25: 34-46. Then Francis Chan challenges us to think about this:

How would my life change if I actually thought of each person I came into contact with as Christ–the person driving painfully slow in front of me, the checker at the grocery store who seems more interested in chatting than ringing up my items, the member of my own family with whom I can’t seem to have a conversation and not get annoyed?

…Jesus is saying that we show tangible love for God in how we care for the poor and those who are suffering. He expects us to treat the poor and the desperate as if they were Christ Himself.

It is important for me to remember, though, that simply getting involved and doing good deeds means nothing if I don’t have a heart devoted to God. First Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” After all, “..the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.” “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22).

I think it’s sad that we live in a world today where Christians are known as selfish, mean, and judgmental. I don’t think we should ever cast stones at someone who thinks differently. The God I believe in doesn’t tell me to condemn every person who may not choose to live the same lifestyle as me; no, rather He tells me to LOVE…to “love our neighbors as ourselves,” to love your enemies and those you disagree with. Love.

Some may wonder why I’m choosing to spend my time, resources, and energy on humble attempts to give back. Why? Love.

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