Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Why I Give

From a psychosocial-developmental perspective, one might say that I give my "time, talent, and treasure" because of the consistency of certain childhood experiences: Not only did my parents model active participation in a variety of church activities (singing in choir, leading Sunday School, helping with children's ministries, going on missions trips) as well as faithful financial giving, they also trained me in the same path by enrolling me in a wide variety of church activities and teaching me to put part of my allowance in the church offering. As a result, even today, these practices feel completely natural, and I think I would feel a little something missing if I gave them up.

From a theological perspective, one can say that I give because God has entrusted me with good things---life and abilities and means. Insofar as He has entrusted me with each of these, I have a responsibility to use them for His glory, which includes making a joyful noise unto the Lord, bringing offerings of all kinds into His courts, studying and teaching His goodness, rejoicing with the joyful, encouraging the afflicted, and aiding the needy in His name. Just as Paul describes the Church as a body with many interdependent parts, I am beginning to believe that God may have designed the world with disparities in income, as well as diversity in talent, so that we would be forced to give to and receive from each other for our mutual well-being, and that in doing so, we would be reminded that we are dependent not only on each other, but ultimately on God for all we have.

But, while each of these reasons is true and operative when I give, there is a deeper reason still, a "heart" reason: I give because giving gives me joy. Whether cooking a meal, participating in a church work day, or sorting food at the Food Bank, I enjoy serving, and if the truth be told, I sometimes get a little buzz placing my offering into the basket on Sunday morning---not out of some self-righteous desire to be seen for my "great works," but with the same kind of excitement a little child has when his mother gives him a coin to drop in the plate as it passes. After all, if "God loves a cheerful giver," then we should all take a certain pleasure in sharing our time, talent, and treasure with others in His name.

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