Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day Three: Consider Your Gift's Destination

A warning:  I'm going to talk a little about Satan today.  I've never done that here before, but it's time.  Strap yourself in and hang on.

There are many types of giving (or, of being a blessing) and I'll talk about those different types another day.  For now, though, I want to focus on giving through monetary gifts (sometimes a byproduct of living simply).

Jamey and I may be living off student loans and an ever-depleting savings account, but we've chosen to continue giving.  It was a decision we had to make after Jamey decided to go back to school.  We had been giving monthly to two organizations and were faced with the reality that those individuals would lose their support if we stopped sending in money.  We could not bear the thought.  Surrounded by all we have, we could not take away from them the physical and spiritual support they were receiving through our gifts (or blessings).  We decided to continue giving.

We also recognize that the more simply we live now, the sooner we can pay off our student loans and begin giving at a higher rate.

That was old news to us, so to speak.  But, in light of my attempts to align myself with God's purposes (see Monday's post), I was called to look again at this giving.  For many of us, giving is not a new concept.  Many Christians and particularly Mennonites come from a heritage of living simply as a means of being able to share our excess.  In addition to part of the "why" we do this that I talked about on Monday, here are only a few scripture passages (of many) that encourage giving...

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.”  Proverbs 19:7

“[Cornelius] and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, ‘Cornelius!’ Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked. The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God ...’ ” Acts 10:2-4

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ ”  Mt. 25:34-40

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Luke 6:38

That pretty much sums it up, no?

But where exactly should we give?

While I will never tell you where to send your gifts, I do want us to think long and hard about the kind of organizations and places we might send our money.

Jamey and I feel very strongly that there needs to be a specific purpose behind our giving.  There is nothing wrong with giving aid (water, food, shelter, clothes, medical care, etc.) IF it's coupled with the message of Jesus Christ.  Here is a quote I came upon recently (or, came upon me, if we're being honest) below.  It rocked my world (italics below are mine).

"The battle against hunger and poverty is really a spiritual battle, not a physical or social one as secularists would have us believe.  The only weapon that will ever effectively win the war against disease, hunger, injustice and poverty in Asia is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  To look into the sad eyes of a hungry child or see the wasted life of a drug addict is to see only the evidence of Satan's hold on this world.  All bad things, whether in Asia or America, are his handiwork.  He is the ultimate enemy of mankind, and he will do everything within his considerable power to kill and destroy human beings.  Fighting this powerful enemy with physical weapons is like fighting an armored tank with stones."  
-K.P. Yohannon 

In the class I'm taking, we read an article which contains this quote.  It's a long one, but please bear with me.

"...God did not allow the formation of a kingdom of darkness.  This kingdom formed through voluntary forces led by Satan, not through God's creation, as such.  It thus became an opposite pole to God's kingdom of light and an alluring option for all moral creatures in their exercise of freedom.  It is a counterfeit kingdom running concurrently with the true kingdom of righteousness.  Very often it seems to be dominant, not only coercing men and women, but winning them.  This is partly because of it's modus operandi {Latin for 'method of operating'}Contrary to many naive opinions, the devil is not a red monster with a pitchfork, but often a do-gooder.  His goal in life is to counterfeit the works of God.  This has been his prized ambition ever since he went into business for himself.  His first recorded intention ended with the words, "I will be like the Most High" (Isa 14:14).  This counterfeiting effort is his most effective ploy, for the more closely he can imitate God's work, the less likely men will be inclined to seek God or pursue His will."   
- Stanley A. Ellisen in his article, "Everyone's Question What is God Trying to Do".  Ellisen was a Professor of Biblical Literature and Chairman of the Division of Biblical Studies at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon.

Go on.  Read that one again.

This makes sense.  If Satan appeared obviously evil, many good people would likely turn away and be drawn to God.  Instead, Satan masquerades as a do-gooder.  How many relief organizations are there out there that simply do-good?  It is good work, but could it possibly be that Satan is using these organizations to lure good people away or distract them from God and His will?

My point is, we must give with purpose.  With God's purpose.  God's purpose (remember from Monday?) is to bless us so that we can bless all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:1-3) and we can ALL in turn praise Him.

What better way than to use what we've been blessed with to bless others.  And to bless them, not just with physical or social aid, but with the only aid that will really, truly save them- Jesus Christ.

So as you consider giving in a new light, please also consider where you will give.  Aid is not a bad thing.  It is a very good thing, but the message of Jesus is of more importance than the aid alone.  A combination of aid and the message is what is needed.  I know this is hard to hear and hard to comprehend sometimes.  The world and the enemy of God would have us think otherwise.  I believe we need to wise up and give to agencies who have their priorities (and purposes) straight.

Oh my word.  For those of you who have stuck with me to the end of yet another long, possibly difficult-to-read post, I thank you.  Have I ever talked so much about Satan?!  I'm stepping out of my comfort zone on this one, folks.  It's that important to me. Pin It

12 comments:

  1. You are totally on target with what you said. I have believed that about Satan for a very long time and I know it to be true only b/c everything in this world seems to reinforce that concept over and over again. One big example for me is the abortion industry. It is masked as the reasonable sounding "it's my choice" and "it's my right" but no one wants to think about a very quiet and physically weak life starting to develop. Satan has cleverly masked treating fetuses like garbage and pharmaceutical companies putting in their orders for those fetus body parts to make vaccines derived from fetal cells. Enough about that. I am sorry to talk so graphically but it really is the truth!
    You are right about hunger and disease as being part of the dark world of Satan and Jesus and prayer is what we need. I appreciate you re-focusing my giving efforts in line now more with organizations that hold God and Jesus as the main messages. I have given to some environment organizations but I think I will re-evaluate and make sure I support causes with the true light of Christ. Thank you Sarah for your prayerfulness and thoughtfulness! And good job with all your canning this summer!

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  2. "This counterfeiting effort is his most effective ploy, for the more closely he can imitate God's work, the less likely men will be inclined to seek God or pursue His will"
    I agree completely.

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  3. I'm loving your bold posts. And I thank you for reminding me (and all who read) of the importance of giving with purpose. Doing all we do with purpose, and in turn having the joy of knowing that we can be tools for the re-building of God's Kingdom.

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  4. Oh my. Wow. Thanks for writing that. You just turned me on my head a bit, but it all makes sense.

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  5. So so true. Thank you so much for sharing this. God is using you to teach me so much!

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  6. Way to grab the bull by the horns! I love that you're following your conscience, even at the risk of losing some readers. I love your bold, unashamed voice speaking in obedience to scripture. I love that you are not allowing your focus on your small children to prevent you from letting your brain and heart grasp a bigger picture.
    (I just hope we sometimes get to see your gardens and chickens, too!!)

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  7. Keep it up! I must admit I was aprehensive about the changes you plan(ned) to make. I was very comfortable with your style and enjoyed it tremendously. But THIS! This is a topic that's been niggling at the back of my mind for YEARS without much form. THANK YOU!!!

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  8. You have made some very good and valid points.

    To the reader above who mentioned the abortion industry...I could not agree more!

    I think that the one thing Satan is out to destroy too, is the FAMILY. We are fighting more than just a battle with Satan...

    It's more like a spiritual warfare.

    I am looking forward to reading more here!

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  9. Such a sweet insight to our hearts and truly giving to the Lord not just to man (for praise).

    Looking forward to tomorrow's post~ Cinnamon

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  10. I am glad you approached the subject of the Enemy. A lot of people only want to hear the feel-good aspects of following Our Heavenly Father. But, there is so much more! The Enemy is real and he is the ultimate deceiver! I am touched you have the courage to put yourself out there with this.

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  11. Wonderful Post. How can we not shine the truth!? You go girl! I mean Woman lol May the Lord Jesus keep richly Blessing you! He said the tithe is Holy! I agree we are to help who we see needy and the poor. I believe our hearts will show us what to do!

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  12. So funny, going through this area of giving right now. The Lord's love, gentleness, and patience in teaching us is mind blowing!

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