18 Nov Committed to Give in a Difficult Season
Matthew 10:8 Freely you have received; freely give.
Stories of people committed to helping those in need are always heart-warming, especially in this difficult season. In the article, “Committed to Helping the Needy” (The Star, Oct 31, 2020), a Malaysian journalist, Venesa Devi, quoted an NGO coordinator: “Some donors told us that they felt bad for not being able to help out as much as they used to because they are also tied down with their own financial obligations… a frequent donor gave us bananas to give to those in need as she was unable to offer other forms of aid as she is also struggling financially.”
Mission is about God’s heart for people, but in practical terms, it requires financial resources in one form or another. Someone somewhere needs to give. Committed donors who regularly, and sacrificially give to mission causes and missions personnel are to be commended. We, therefore, deeply appreciate the donors who give to AsiaCMS, especially to the Covid-19 relief drive some months ago – that gave a measure of assistance to suffering communities.
Giving is also a privilege because that means we do have some source of income to give from – not everyone has that in this season of economic hardships and reduced incomes. Reflecting further on this subject of giving, some thoughts come to mind:
There is a “grace of giving” that grows together with our love for God and for people. The Apostle Paul speaks of this grace of giving that is upon the Macedonian churches. In their “severe trial… extreme poverty”, they “pleaded… for the privilege” of giving and they “gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (1 Cor.8:1-7). Authentic Christian worship, giving and serving God’s mission are intertwined. King David states that he will “not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing” (2 Sam.24:24). This aligns with the Old Testament principle that the worshipper “shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed” (Deut.16:16; Exo.23:15, 34:20).
We should all be generous in our giving. This should ideally be the case, but regrettably, there are Christians, even clergy and pastors who for the lack of a better word, are stingy. They give very little from their personal incomes and do not practice any regular habits of giving. For some who work fulltime in mission-type jobs, they might even justify that they are already “giving” to God – in working in a vocation that is already low-paying.
Giving should increase as our incomes increases. In real terms, Christians from poorer socio-economic backgrounds are often observably more generous than rich Christians – they have far less leftover after they give. Without being legalistic, the 10% tithe is a good initial giving target for the average Christian. Start with that. Give to our local church, then expand the scope of our giving to other aspects of God’s mission. Simpler lifestyles, minimalist approaches to material wealth and being more discerning about financial responsibilities/obligations – all add to being able to give more.
Give to spheres of God’s mission beyond the scope of our immediate involvement. This is especially important for Christians in leadership and those already deeply involved in mission. Committed Christians usually will not stop at just giving their time and energies; they will also give from their personal finances to causes and organizations they are involved in. However, we need to nurture a broadening view of God’s mission. We also need to guard against the peril of the human ego – a sinful self-centeredness that is overly focused on growing our personal ministries and organizations. To maintain a balanced perspective, it is always wise to apportion a part of our giving to where we have no vested ego interests, to other causes and people in God’s larger mission.
Peace and Grace,
Rev. Chan NamChen (PhD)