Like many of you I have received year-end giving appeals from various organizations, many of them Christian. I realize that many (if not all) realize that people make year-end contributions for two main reasons. The first is the year-end tax deduction that one can receive from the IRS for charitable giving. The other is the “Holiday Spirit” when people feel more charitable.
A part of me sometimes chafes at such reasoning. “A true and pure Christian would simply give out of love of God, no matter what time of year it is.” But is that just being cynical and snide?
In the Old Testament, the people were instructed to give their offering with the first harvest. It was when they actually had something to give.
Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest (Lev. 23:10).
I’ve come to think that God is very practical and earthy, not so idealistic as I sometime make God to be. God knows that our hearts need encouragement in giving. Many of us are not instantly generous. If the IRS or the “Christmas Spirit” gives you an incentive to give to your favorite charity, then go for it. And if that helps you become a more generous person, give thanks to God.
Which reminds me of a story of a congregation where a guest missionary preach. After her sermon, an offering was taken by the ushers. The usher stopped by one grim-looking member who refused to pass the offering plate. The usher whispered, “It’s for the mission work in Africa.” The member still refused. The usher whispered louder, “Don’t you care about unbelievers?” Still no response. Finally the usher in a voice everyone could hear, “Then why don’t you take some out, it’s for pagans like you anyway.”
Our generosity is to be a fruit of our trust in Jesus.
With that thought made, I would encourage you to make a year-end contribution to your local congregation. And since this blog is an outgrowth of Resurrection Lutheran Church where I am a pastor, you are welcomed to make a contribution to Resurrection if this blog has been a blessing to you in the past year.
Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous towards others.