Sunday, December 14, 2014

Giving


Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
Proverbs 19:17

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
Proverbs 14:31

I have to admit that when I was looking up some commentaries on giving and the Bible, too many of the sources I found focused on giving to the church.  I give what I can to church, which is what I think of when the apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:12 "For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have."  Many churches though use this as a means of forcing a true tithe of 10 percent.  However, even though we are in the season of giving, we should be giving and helping year round to those who need assistance.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commands us to give to the needy:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:1-4
Giving is not all about what you give to your local congregation, but what you give to those who are in need.  We are to love our fellow man and not judge them.  If we look down on the poor, then how can we look up to God.  Some people blame God for the misfortunes of the world, I blame those who do not follow the teachings of love and charity.  Do you have to be a Christian to have love for your fellow man or to be charitable to the less fortunate?  Of course you don't.  But I will say this, too many people who call themselves Christian often follow the proverb "God helps those who help themselves."  The phrase is often mistaken as scriptural, but it appears nowhere in the Bible. 

Political commentator Bill O'Reilly employed the phrase, in responding to Jim McDermott, the Democratic U.S. Representative for Washington's 7th congressional district, who argued, "This is Christmas time. We talk about Good Samaritans, the poor, the little baby Jesus in the cradle and all this stuff. And then we say to the unemployed we won't give you a check to feed your family. That's simply wrong." O'Reilly argued for a more selective approach to unemployment benefits, and the importance of individual responsibility, concluding "while Jesus promoted charity at the highest level, he was not self-destructive. The Lord helps those who help themselves. Does he not?" Political comedian Stephen Colbert parodied him in response, concluding in character, "if this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition; and then admit that we just don't want to do it." Colbert may be a comedian who is often irreverent, but he makes a good point.

For the vast majority of us, misfortune finds us at one point or another. Various people have helped me during those unfortunate times, and I do my best to help those in need when I am able to help.  Giving is not just for the red buckets of the Salvation Army during Christmastime bit for all year round.  It is also not about gifts and money, because not all of us are able to do so, but it is about giving our love to those around us.  Love is the greatest gift we can give.

Peace, love, and charity!


If this post looks familiar, then you read it a year ago.  I wasn't feeling well last night, and I'd planned on posting about the hymn "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms" until I realized that I'd already written that post in October.  So I decided on a more holiday themed post from last year.

4 comments:

Michael Dodd said...

One notes that the "God helps those who help themselves" line is believed by most people to be divinely inspired scripture and thus an excuse for not helping those in need when we don't feel like it. It is, in fact, nowhere in scripture though scripture contains many verses condemning greed and selfishness, as well as all those verses about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and so on. MR. OReilly might want to know that not a single verse includes the proviso "the deserving" naked, etc. The whole point of Christmas is that God so loved the UNdeserving world that the Son came to save it out of pure love. If we want to keep Christ in Christmas, we need to remember what that means.
Here endeth the rant.

silvereagle said...

This is a "second" posting well worth reading. Maybe again in the near future even!

Bodhisbuddy said...

Sometime back in the long ago ages of my youth, I believe I recall (although I am too lazy to substantiate it) that the phrase, "The gods help those that help themselves." was the moral of one of Aesop's fables. It may not be scriptural, but it is good sense.

Indiscriminately throwing money at the endless poor hardly seems like good stewardship of such blessings as God has provided. Ergo, I have to use such judgment as I might. It's too bad that in the parable of the talents there wasn't a fourth servant who gave it all to the temple or the poor. Sure would be interested to know what the master would've thought of that!

Lest you think me a skin flint, I do part with my money on such occasions as I am moved and can see that the gift will be used well. And rarely just for the joy of the receiver which I sometimes get to share and sometimes do not as I usually do such things anonymously.

I often wonder if God blesses me more for this. (Deut. 15:10) One might never know for certain, but I shudder to think that he might find a reason to bless me less!



Jamie James said...

It is interesting that it is getting harder and harder to give anonymously. I give to the Ronald McDonald House in Richmond. It's my part of Gifts for Larry and Gabe. Last year, I was more or less forced to fill out a form with name/address/value. I guess I could have lied, but that would have made me feel worse than not being able to "give and go".

I see bodhisbuddy's comment. I don't give to the panhandlers, I give to organizations that help them get off the streets. I give to the LGBTQ youth org I volunteer with, and since I don't have a church trying to squeeze a tithe out of me, I have something to give. I research the orgs, I pick the ones that don't discriminate, that use most of the money for direct services (you'd be surprised at how much of charitable giving goes to salaries, churches included).

You can also give of your time, of your talents - ROSMY gets so much volunteer help that they spend almost nothing on maintenance. More money for direct services to the kids. We even called a company to get a free trial on some library software. They said "you like it, you own it, we'll send you a key". There's no many orgs that need help - most especially NOT at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but during the rest of the year, when no one is promoting giving of anything. Imagine if the food bank could send a mass text and get 25 volunteers on a moment's notice when a 48' reefer box shows up with donated food that needs to be scanned in and stored NOW. THAT'S giving in my mind.

I don't know if I care or not who knows what I am doing. I don't crow about it. That's being boastful which is a sin in and of itself. But sometimes letting people know how rewarding giving is can spur them to give of themselves.

Recycled post or not, it's timely, and thought provoking.

Peace <3
Jay