- Religion and Philosophy
Must People Get To Prompt Giving?
Thrift & Charity
As I drovepast yet another new thrift store the other day, i noted a sign stating what charity / group / organization it supports. A thought occurred to me, and led to this writing, this seems to "sum up" the blending of our culture, politics & religion. It seems that many (most? a lot of?) organizations that help others, those typically supported by donations & funding, perhaps by drives as well as regular supporters, have all begun to give you something for your money. We go to a charitable thrift store, buy something, feel like were "helping out", yet, we got something for our generosity. Some people likely help out by accident, they just went in looking for a cheap "whatever" and in getting it, helped the organization. Those who donate the merchandise TO the thrift shops, they are the ones that are giving right? Sometimes, hopefully usually - but then the tax certificate for "deduction for charitable contribution" is part of their tax write-off that year, hmm. Many times what being donated is whats "left over" from ones own attempt to sell it through a yard sale or something, so, what no one wanted to buy when they were selling it, gets generously given to the charitable organization thrift store, likely with a request for a tax receipt. Now IF one takes the tax break on the donated left overs, shouldn't they also claim the income from their sale? (Just a thought)
I also see this with things I get in the mail requesting donations, they either send a "gift" (like a book mark or address stickers)as a prompt to seeking your donation, or, they list what you can get based on what you give, I've seen this on some of those different telethon shows, religious programming and even some natural tragedy recovery efforts as well. Please don't misunderstand, I'm not knocking thrift stores, donors or shoppers, the "realization" that had occurred to me was just the "get" for giving, didn't we used to just give? Why a tax break, that hasn't always been that way, are there any truly pure motives anymore? Personally I've never sought or taken a tax receipt for donations, nor claimed my tithe, donations or charity on my taxes, maybe I don't (and haven't) ever made enough to bother, although I still just don't "feel" that I'd want to, no offense to those that do. It's more the system that's been created that I'm addressing.
I know severalpeople who save every receipt and get more generous at the end of the year, I believe it's a combination of Christmas & end of year tax write offs. For me I've just always wanted / needed to know that my motivation was just a desire to give / donate. For years I would usually throw cash in (unmarked) for my tithe, because I wasn't going to use a receipt, when I got put on direct deposit it became check offerings because it was easier. May my motives never be anything more than pure, and may I always uphold as I was led to obey God's ways, not man's.
Conclusion & Clarification
Ever feel pressured or just uneasy about an open, broad, public request for a need, one in which the requester seems to personally desire? Like a Pastor asking for a new pulpit because he doesn't like the current one (as a weak example). In essence everyone is being asked to "dig in" & give up for this desire or vision, personal in nature to the seeker, yet, the seeker isn't poor or struggling, or at least not anymore than everyone else. Often the person will have money tucked away toward retirement or whatever, here an investment, there an investment, even though the Bible instructs us to live "this day" & trust God. Many Christians have become consumed with retirement accounts and their future, taking it in their hands, or putting it in man's hands with an investor or broker, anything but God's hands it seems. All the while current needs go unmet, or a desire is sought to be fulfilled by "others" who may not have "put away" as they see to many needs today. Seems it's always a new item too, rarely something used, nothing that's going to come from one of those many thrift stores.
I just find it "off" when one who has money put away is asking for others to give up for something to the direct benefit of the requester. Oh, and by the way, I've personally never seen a pulpit in a thrift store, so there wouldn't be much reason for the preacher to check there, it was all just hypothetical stuff.
I'm not a big saver, never have been, that's both good & bad, I know to some it's bad only, but we all have different outlooks. As I've grown in Christ, I've learned to rely on Him in full, there were times I wished I'd have more put away, but as I get closer to Him that falls away. Trusting God for what we NEED, both now and in the future is faith, we can't out give God, so I don't know why anyone is worried. As I was growing up, I was told (convincingly I might add) that there would be no SSI for "me" (my generation), so I've never really looked forward to it, but also, I'd never thought of "retirement" (the act of, not the funding of), somehow i just always thought I'd work. None of the above options are "bad" or "good" in and off themselves from a spiritual perspective until we include the motive, heart, intent & leading.
If God leads you to give it all away, then do it, just don't be doing it in an attempt to "earn a return". If God is leading you to be a saver, then save, but realize that what God is leading you to save for might not be what you think, it's God's money - be open to what He may ask you to do with it.
To clarify and be fair, I do know some people who give generously for (from what I can tell) all the right reasons, they are blessed financially and they know that, in turn they give, and at the end of the year if they didn't take the tax break the Govt would take more from them, that money that they would lose then wouldn't be in their account to go to help others. So there are exceptions, but at the same time too many of the others give the good ones a bad name. As I'd stated, the system really forces some issues, I've seen people relegated that if they wanted to give it had to be a write off or they just couldn't do it. This is the ways of man taking a precedence over God's ways.
I guess what I'm saying as to the other is, if what you want / need is that important, dig into your savings and get it. If I were going to invest in the business "start-up" of another person, the first thing I would want to know is what of their own is "on the line", if they don't believe in their idea enough to risk all they have, I'm not going to feel comfortable risking anything of mine. Often before we seek from others, have We given ALLwe have especially if God is leading you to it.. Now, IF someone is led & just "gives" to that person, be it money or an item, then cool! But only then, that's the validation of God's hand in it as He moves others to give.
Lastly, to be clear, this referred much to personal requests, not Ministry requests that would directly benefit the body or the lost, although I've heard some wild arguments for how some personal wants were going to benefit the ministry / body.