Discussion question: giving


With so many organisations desperate for money, how is a young person, beginning to have money at their disposal, able to discern who to give it to? Every time you walk up a busy street there is someone with a clipboard or bucket, demanding your time and funds. In Christian circles the appeal seems broader- missionaries need money, churches need money, Christian charities need money, evangelistic work needs money and even the old lady at the back needs a few coins! Here are a few questions to think about. In all of these questions the overall question is: ‘how is God most glorified in the use of our money and giving?’. Please feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, answers and ideas.
  1. What does the Bible say about giving? (Matthew 6:4, James 2:16, Acts 2:20, Mark 12:41-44 etc.)
  2. Can we only give to Christian groups or can people like Oxfam and CancerResearch benefit from us too?
  3. Are there ever any cases in which it would be wrong to give someone money when they ask for it?
  4. Are missionaries less spiritual if they go around telling churches they need funds?
  5. Does God give us an upper and lower limit to our giving. Do we have to give a certain amount? How much is too much?
  6. Do we need to give to our local church if we give to MERF as well?
  7. How do we decide whether to support gospel work or charity work? Is it wrong to help both?
  8. Should we give to beggars?
  9. Is it right for us to ask rich non-Christians for money?

9 comments:

  1. In reply to Question 2, I would personally never support or shop at Oxfam or Cancer Research charity shops, because they both support abortion or research projects using stem cells from aborted embryos. The Society For The Protection Of Unborn Children (SPUC), provides an online list of charities, which tells you if, and to what extent charities are involved in these kinds of activities. They are currently updating this information. Some has already been updated, but the info from 2006 is still available to view.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your comments, Anna. It's true there are loads of charities out there with morals/actions that don't glorify Christ. Thanks also for the resource info- will have to go and see for myself now! The link is:

    http://www.spuc.org.uk/education/charities/

    It's useful to know where our money goes if we choose to support these charities!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Perhaps the BEST (not only) way we can serve the Lord with our money apart from giving directly to the work of our local church is by helping those WITHIN our churches who have a need. Christians who are in financial difficulties should not need to turn to the State for help- the early church had a 'shared purse' to give to those in need.
    Obviously though, we don't want to condone or encourage a self-imposed need caused by foolish handling of money!
    Certainly this is an issue for prayer; we need, as individuals, to be honestly asking the Lord what HE would have us do with our money.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for your article Elspeth. Anna, I agree with the way in which you are thinking through who you should and should not give to. One question: What principle is it that you are putting into action that means that you say "no" to cancer research that uses stem cell research?

    Jasmine: Does that mean that if somebody within the church is in need it would be fine for them to go round asking for money? Should they take the matter to the Elders first? Are there any biblical passages that help us out here that you know of?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the link to the website - we will definitely be using it because that is a very serious concern! Thomas, in this partcilar case I suppose the principle we are putting into practice is that life is sacred from conception, not just birth.

    In general, the principle is taking our responsibilities seriously and making sure that the money we give (essentially, to God) is going to be used in a God-glorifying way and remembering that the money is His anyway, so how does He want it used? I think a really important thing is to listen to what He says to us about it. There are so many good causes in the world and so many needs to be met - one person can never hope to help all of them! Sometimes it is easy to feel like a rabbit in headlights or to just stick to one thing "because that is what I have always done". We need to be open to God, for Him to say, "I've taken care of that one, your money is needed elsewhere" or "I want you to give your money to these people at this time".

    Thanks for the questions, they are really good.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thomas, just saw your question! (and pulled out my Bible).

    The verses I had in mind when writing before were these;
    "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: NEITHER SAID ANY OF THEM THAT OUGHT OF THE THINGS THAT HE POSSESSED WAS HIS OWN, BUT THEY HAD ALL THINGS COMMON.... NEITHER WAS THERE ANY AMONG THEM THAT LACKED: FOR AS MANY AS WERE POSSESSORS OF LANDS OR HOUSES SOLD THEM, AND BROUGHT THE PRICES OF THE THINGS THAT WERE SOLD, AND LAID THEM DOWN AT THE APOSTLE'S FEET: AND DISTRIBUTION WAS MADE UNTO EVERY MAN ACCORDING AS HE HAD NEED." Acts 4:32-35

    The church apparently had 'an open purse'; those who possessed 'lands and houses' supplying the needs of those in want. I think that this aspect of church life is quite a foreign concept to us today, mainly for two reasons;

    1. The State has taken over the role of financial provision. The needy Christian (or unbelieving neighbour, friend or relative) doesn't need help from the church; they just have to go to the government for a hand-out. Why sacrifce our own comforts to give to someone when the State will do it for you? The same would go for providing for the 'widow and orphan'.

    "And the Levite...and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow...shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all the work of thine hand." (Deuteronomy 14:29) (See also chap. 24 verses 19-21) Also, in 1 Timothy 5 the church is given instructions about providing for widows.

    2. We no longer live as a community. Church members often have little or no close contact with one another; no idea how each other is faring spiritually or financially. We often have no idea that our brothers and sisters ARE in need!

    Perhaps that second point goes some way towards answering your question about asking for funds; maybe we 'should' KNOW each other (in a local church body) intimately enough that needs are seen and known without the person who is lacking having to go round trying to alert everyone to their need!

    That is an issue though; not sure what is the appropriate course of action when you are the needy one. Prayer should obviously be your first recourse, but would you then actually ASK for financial help? Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

    Sorry this is so long!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Kept looking through the concordance and came up with this verse; "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (1 John 3:17)

    Also, in Philippians 4:10-19, Paul commends the Philippians for giving to him, supplying his needs, and is not ashamed to make it clear that their funds are greatly helpful to him; that, humanly speaking, he 'needs their help', although he has learned to "suffer need". He is, though, more eager for the blessing THEY will receive FROM giving than for the blessing HE will receive BY their giving.

    A little more food for thought! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tabitha, thanks for explaining a little better what priciples we are trying to hold to. Would it be right, do you reckon, to say that it is wrong to give money to charities/organisations that are going to sin in the use of it but not wrong to give money to organisations/charities that will use money in a way which you disagree with? The problem is that if we only ever gave money to charity where we agreed with absolutely everything that they did we wouldn't really give away very much/any money even though they need it! What do you think of the idea of having a list of charities etc. that the church has researched and that way not everybody has to research every charity?

    Jasmine, looks like a lot of work went into that reply. Really interesting observations though, as you pointed out, I'm not sure that they help us get to much of a conclusion for somebody in that situation. The 1 John verse is particularly noteworthy and makes it the duty of all believers to be looking round the local church for people who they can serve and look after. I don't think it is right for the church to have everything in common (i.e. no personal property) now but I do agree that the church should be responsible for more of the care than it currently is. Maybe the Acts 4 verse instructs us that we should be willing to give up anything that we own for the the good of a brother.

    Helpful and certainly food for thought. Thanks:)

    ReplyDelete
  9. As you said, Thomas, I am not advocating that joining a church means you relinquish all rights to private property (surely that would NOT be appropriate, Biblical, or wise!) but rather that we should be willing to give up anything we have for our brothers and sisters in need - especially with Matthew 25:40 in mind.

    I do think that in regards to asking for funds the ideal is that we simply KNOW one another well enough to know when there is a need. I remember a situation that arose in our church when someone who was very tight on funds (not through their own fault) had to travel back to their home country to attend her father's funeral. There was no trumpet-blowing call for funds; there was a request for prayer from the pastor, and the church members knew that funds would be needed for the trip. Money was quietly given by some, with no need for a 'high-profile request'! This would seem to be the way it should be.

    Individualism has become too rampant in our churches today; obviously a certain amount of individualism is necessary but a lot of the time church members can end up living in their own little bubbles; 'meeting and greeting' on a Sunday morning but knowing very little about each others lives and needs. The picture is more that of a load of amputated limbs than a functioning BODY! If we lived a little more as a community- at least in the spirit of a community, rather than necessarily living in close proximity, a lot of these issues would be better resolved! :-)

    ReplyDelete

Please feel free to leave a comment. We love to hear our reader's responses. :)