The season of giving is upon us. Well, at least for the many who celebrate a version of Christmas. Regardless of the true origins of the day, it still results in giving. Agreed, much of it is to excess when there is so much desperate want in the world. Charitable organizations, from those who feed children to churches across the land, use the season as an opportunity to encourage an increase in giving to help those who spend their days doing without. In thinking about this, I wondered how many people thought about the power of giving as groups.
I thought about an average number of people who might attend a church. I picked 90 because I remember hearing that number as an average attendance once for one church. Sure, many churches have a much greater number who attend regularly, and some other churches have far less. The number is just to show the power of a group when it comes to giving.
How much could you give for six months in addition to your tithe? I wanted to think of a dollar amount that would be a strain for many people but not absolutely beyond the realm of possibility. I picked $50 for six months. I know some people who earn a very good living. They could give $50 for six months without it creating any real issues with their family budgets. I know other people who could pull it off, but they would have to cut corners and make sacrifices with their own families for the six months. For some others I know, it would just require a little restructuring of their spending habits for half a year.
Do you know anyone in your church who is in need? Maybe someone needs help with a new furnace or a much needed upgrade to their home. Maybe someone needs some medical equipment not covered by insurance. Maybe a new mom desperately needs someone to come in every day and help a little but in no way can afford the expense. Maybe someone needs reliable transportation. It could be anything.
90 x $50 x 6 = $27000
A group of 90 giving $50 per month equals $4,500 per month. At six months the total is $27,000. The total is more money in six months than the annual income of many people each of us likely know and interact with at church. How could $27,000 change a family? Is $50 way too much? Is the sacrifice too much of a burden? Okay, let us change the amount to $25 instead. For a group of 90 that equals $2,250 each month for a grand total at six months of $13,500.
My neighbors need a furnace. They are elderly and raising their 4 year old grandson who has autism. The furnace replacement will cost about $3,500, or less than two months of 90 people giving $25 per month. At the $25 level it would pay rent, a payment on a used vehicle that could be paid off within six months and still probably have some left over to cover a few utilities for a homeless family. This would allow a homeless family six months to have a home and get back back on their feet. It would permit them time to look for work and still have a roof over their heads as well as transportation.
All that it takes is a heart for giving—a commitment to do it even if it is a strain—and a little organization. All of these things are biblical principles. In looking back at needs I have become aware of in the past, I am ashamed at my lackadaisical response. Fifty bucks for six months would have been difficult for us but not impossible. I am thankful that God is changing how I look at the world.
I feel it is important to mention one more thing about giving. I know people who want to control the gift. They never really give it away. They want a say in how it will be used. I can appreciate the mindset, but is that true giving? If you give something, you need to give it. Not give with a string attached to it so you can yank it back. As my pastor has indicated many times, if that is how you view your gift, just keep it. God does not need it. In fact, I heard a teacher on giving mention the other day how God is the owner of it all. He does not need anything. He gave giving to us! Do you get that?
There are a lot of scenarios running through my head right now concerning those who set conditions on giving. One that comes to mind is seeing a person in line at a grocery store using food stamps and wearing a name brand coat. We see the food stamps as a gift from society—our tax dollars—and are appalled at the audacity of the gift recipient owning a name brand coat. Maybe the coat was a gift. Maybe it was purchased at a store that sells irregulars for a highly discounted price. Maybe it was found at a second hand store. Maybe it is old and was purchased when times were better.
Are there abusers out there who would take advantage? Certainly there are. Wisdom is another biblical principle that needs to be used in giving. Regardless of the details of meeting each need, the command is to give. It goes beyond tithing and giving offerings. The early church had all things in common (Acts 2:44 and Acts 4:32). And remember what Jesus said about doing or not doing. In all of it, it is like we do or not do it to him (Matthew 25:31-46).