The Ethics of Giving …

This is a really tough one – and I’m just pondering and reflecting – not arriving at conclusions but merely raising some questions as food for thought!

In my earlier stages of living here in Sri Lanka, I was working with NGOs.  I had come with a  lot of excitement and passion to reach out to people.  However, my experience while report writing for the various NGOs got me thinking a lot… People were learning not only to depend on the donations and donors, but also demanding for a lot too. Fabricated sob stories and cheating seemed to be something that a number of the benefactors were not ashamed of.  This of course leads me to the question how can one give to empower?

Sadly there are many spouses who are all out to take their families to the next level while their spouses are busy selling the donations given to feed into their addictions.  How can these people be helped?  Can the lifestyle of the families be closely monitored to ensure progress and empowerment?   Then on the other hand of course there are a number of charity organisations who ‘use’ their childrens’ homes and elders homes as a means for other gains.  A number of elders homes charge a pretty high rate for their residents and happily take donations too.  Will giving a meal here and there have any true impact on the lives of the residents of any kind of home – or is it aiding to get used to a nice meal to then struggle to eat the regular mundane foods again?

Now as believers we are called to help, to do good to everyone (and especially other believers – Galatians 3:10).  So what are the ethics of giving so that we are building up other people and not ignorantly tearing down?  How can our giving be in such a manner that God gets the glory and not us?

One thing that is never mentioned in the Scriptures is of Jesus giving money to anyone.  Yes, He saw that the people who had been on the mountain three days would be hungry and He gave them food by multiplying what was on hand.

Social media is an amazing platform that can be used to encourage relationships and networking but also a great platform for boasting.  I have heard some say that they are showing the need to people encouraging them to take a step of love.  (Well that doesn’t mean that those who aren’t splashing it all over media aren’t taking steps of love either).  Besides, if people weren’t namesake Christians but rather true believers wouldn’t they be spurred onto action by God’s love?  If we are encouraging people to give with what motive will they give – out of compulsion?  out of a heart to do ‘good works’?  out of keeping up with the Jones’s and not to feel “lesser” than the other?

Or should our light be shining so that people see the SOURCE?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven – Matthew 5:14,16

Yes at the end of the day we can’t judge each other’s motives and only God knows the hearts.  Yet one thing we can examine ourselves when we do share our Are our acts actually building up or devaluing others?  Are they elevating ourselves while humbling others?

How does God see all this?

“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

What does it mean to do something contrary to what Jesus clearly says?

Would the following perhaps be a biblical solution then?

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys – Luke 12:33

What example did the early church demonstrate in living?

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need – Acts 4: 32:35

The family of believers SHARED life DAILY!  Is this a challenge for believers of today’s modern era?  If so, is this challenge the reason why Jesus said the following?

 

… it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” – Mark 10:25

If we were indeed living as what Paul writes above about the church, would we even then ‘celebrate’ an act of giving or would it be so part of our lives that we wouldn’t even realise we were doing it?  Would then the need of taking selfies with equipment much more than the actual giving be a part of the picture?

 

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