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Posts Tagged ‘why give’

givingCan you imagine it? The call had gone out to all the Israelites to contribute freely to the building of the Tabernacle, an extensive list of what was needed from gold to silver to bronze and precious jewels and fabrics. And over time, they collected more than enough. The people had to be restrained from giving more. What minister or leader wouldn’t mind being in that situation?

Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work. [Exodus 36:6-7, NIV]

But that would be rare indeed. Instead, the issue of giving seems to be the bane of every organization, whether religious or secular. There never seems to be enough money to go around. Is it the lack of money really or is the projects we are hoping to fund? Are there more good ideas than there are resources?

Back in those days, there was only one primary task before them: the building of the Tabernacle and setting up the tools and arena for worshiping the God; that same God who saved them in the desert, who brought them out of Egypt, who showed them miracle after miracle. And in their midst, the evidence of God was still quite present: the cloud during the day and the fire at night.

What do we have? We have many, many good causes raising the call for donations. Many churches are also looking to build their buildings or their programs, to expand their reach, to broadcast their message. Humanitarians are looking to ease the burdens of hunger and poverty, inequalities and tragic losses. Those affected, either directly or indirectly, are raising consciousness about various diseases that need more research or children dying unnecessarily. Others are fighting causes to protect the unprotected, the weak or the disadvantaged. And still others are fighting for funds to raise brighter, stronger, smarter, and more valiant children, the next generation to whom a troubled world is being inherited. And still others are simply looking to brighten our world with beauty, art, and music, but lack the means to be effective.

All of these enterprises have value, some for many and some for only a few. Where do I put my energy? Where do I put my funds? To whom do I commit my dollars? My time? How do I choose? And what portion is appropriate? Is it just the sacred tithe of ten percent or more? What does my own family require or not?

I think sacrificial giving, which has become a real buzzword in the church, is a dangerous misnomer. It implies a painful aspect, giving beyond what one is comfortable giving. It implies that one’s own needs may not be met in the face of giving for the sake of another. The sacrifice is not in the giving itself but in the heart. It is giving out of commitment and belief that the gift will matter and will make a difference.

Giving may do better with intent and outcome. I mean, anyone can give a dollar to a homeless person on the street and feel some relief but the bigger picture has not been touched by the gift. If my heart is sincere about this person’s needs or situation, then the gift must go deeper and further. It simply must or it’s just a spray of pennies.

When the Israelites gave for the building of their Tabernacle, they knew that the one gold bracelets would be melted into the ton of gold that was used to cover the poles and the Ark and the table. They saw the gold every day and knew, one fraction was theirs. And it was theirs too. They gave out of a passion for the place in which God was present.

Passionate giving has power.

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