Just wanted to share my devotional reading for this morning. I often think about these things trying to decide the best way to be charitable. I would like to think of myself as having a very kind heart that I’m still learning how to use. So, I though these thoughts on Charitable Giving were very interesting. Although, it does leave the question about what Jesus said to the rich young ruler (“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ ” Matthew 19:21, NIV). But as you notice, Jesus never said sell ALL your possessions, liquidate your assets, and be broke in the process…but I digress. Here we go 🙂
Scripture Reference: ” Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality.” – 2 Corinthians 8:13, 14 (NIV)
Between A.D. 46 and 48 a famine devastated Jerusalem. It was so destructive that Queen Helena of Adiabene (Adiabene was a small independent kingdom in Mesopotamia), a relatively recent convert to Judaism, had sent emergency rations of grain and figs to Jerusalem. It may be that some of the church members in Jerusalem were suffering the aftereffects of this famine. Or it’s possible that some early church members had become destitute because family had abandoned them when they’d converted to Christianity.
James, Peter, and John, leaders in Jerusalem, had earlier given Paul their blessing on his work among the Gentiles as long as he (and the Gentile converts) remembered to help the poor. Paul agreed and later affirmed, “I have certainly been eager to do that” (Galatians 2:10, NLT). So when Paul encouraged the Corinthian Christians to donate, he was simply upholding his end of the negotiations.
What’s difficult when it comes to charitable gifts is knowing not only how much to donate but also how to give in such a way that the contribution will provide the most benefit. For example, 2.7 billion people live in poverty, which means they subsist on the equivalent of $2 or less per day. Should the two billionaire friends Bill Gates and Warren Buffett pool their billions and then divide the money ($108 billion) equally among poverty-stricken people, all would receive just $40 apiece — enough to keep them going for another 20 days. hardly making a dent in poverty! Clearly, good stewardship entails ensuring that donations will have a significant impact. And what would happen if Gates and Buffet did give all their money to the poor? Wouldn’t that add two or more people to the poverty list?
Paul’s perspective was clearheaded. While it’s important that we be generous, we should give from our surplus and not put ourselves into dire financial straits similar to those of the people we wish to help. The goal Paul aimed for was a modicum of equality. “In this way, everyone’s needs will be met.”