2001-12-24 - Giving
Acts 3:6 "But Peter said, 'I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene -- Walk!'"
In Rosedale, Minnesota, Kathleen Healy was trying on jeans at Marshall Field's. When she entered the dressing room, she found a money clip full of cash. Though she could see a $50 and $100 bill, she didn't count it all because "it wasn't my money," she said. She then gave the wad to the clerk and refused any reward. The sales clerk "screamed and said 'Oh, a customer's been looking all over for this.'" The frantic customer burst into tears of relief when they returned the cash to her, but Healy still refused a reward. The sales clerk insisted she take a box of Marshall Field's signature chocolates, Frango Mints. When Healy opened the box, a note was enclosed indicating she had won $10,000, as part of their "Win a Mint" game. I've never won anything before," the ecstatic winner said.
The end of the year is a time when nonprofit organizations, charities, and religious affiliations drive hard for our cash. There are several reasons for this. One is that people are often in a more generous mood during the Christmas season. Another is that people are often looking to obtain a tax write off while giving to a group they have a special affinity with. The organizations themselves are trying to close the books on the up side. So we get letters, phone calls, and 15 minute "stewardship" reminders on Sunday morning.
I don't want to suggest for a second that there is anything wrong with this. It is to be expected. Because of all the giving that took place in the NYC tragedy many organizations are down in their funds this year. Some are down as much as 30-40%. These groups plan each fiscal year based on the giving from the previous year and many groups, churches, and societies are simply not making their budget. The divinity school I graduated from recently cut six full time employees because they were not making budget. That is the first time in the history of the school they have ever had to do that.
If you are like me you have limited funds to give away. I am very careful where, and to whom I give. I support my church first and a couple of missionaries. When I am able to give more I give to an intercity church that is struggling to meet their financial needs because the income level of those who attend it is so low that many have nothing to give. A good reminder is to try to give as if we were giving our gifts directly to the Lord. Just as the wise men came giving their gifts to Christ, so also, when we give we are to give responsibly, as if our gifts were being laid at the very feet of Christ.
We do not want to lack in our giving nature. God tells Adam that He has "given him every plant," for his food, Genesis 1:29. Christ is said to have given Himself up as our ransom in 1 Timothy 2:6. How then can we not be giving people? We have been given everything and we deserved none of it. We bring our sin and God cares for our needs and Christ gives Himself as sacrifice for our sin. There is a reason why John 3:16 is the most quoted verse in the Bible. It is because it speaks of the great gift we have been given in Christ and the benefits that come to us through that gift. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Let us set aside some time during this hectic time of year and reflect on what we have been given in Christ and the awesomeness of that gift, namely: forgiveness from sin and eternal life in heaven with God.
Soli Deo Gloria,