7 important thoughts on giving
Acts 24:17 “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings.”
- Enable the Church to give.
- He was enabling the church in Jerusalem to give. The church must be seen in the community helping the poor. Do everything through the church. Equip the church so that Christ is glorified. Do not just give to a community project but give it to the church to give to that project.
- Know the place where you are giving.
- Paul had been in Jerusalem 5 years previously (Acts 21:18) and it was here that James, Peter and John asked Paul to help them with the poor (Galatians 2:10).
- Keep the poor always with you.
- He was asked to ‘remember the poor’ (Gal 2:10). There wasn’t a project in mind and there wasn’t an amount they were aiming for. They just asked that Paul didn’t forget about the need. I remember prayers as a child before we ate at the dinner table saying things like ‘…and we remember those less fortunate…’ But in our remembrance let us do something.
- Encourage cross-culture giving.
- Some will only give to their own citing that we have to look after ourselves first. These are people whose global responsibility is very small and have shrunken worlds. Paul crossed into Asia Minor and collected from the Gentiles for the Jews (Romans 15: 25-28).
- Find the true motivation.
- That is more than “we have more than them and we need to share it around”. Paul saw that the Gentiles owed the Jews so much for their spiritual blessings (Romans 15:27). I have seen the most impoverished people in this world bless me in ways that the richest wouldn’t have a clue how to do. I have never said goodbye to the poor without coming away a better man because of them.
- Make sure the money gets there.
- Paul made sure the money got to where it should go (Romans 15:28). You would think this be an obvious point. This is what is hidden in much charity giving. There is always a cost in making sure the giving gets to where it should be. If a charity or a para-church organisation goes bust then no one wins. But some of the percentage costs are horrendous.
- There are no guarantees.
- There are so many verses that promise that we will receive if we give. We all have believed and experienced those to be true. I remember the church member who complained that though they were a tither they were experiencing difficulties! Paul is on trial before Felix having been on one of the biggest fund-raising trips of his life. He is saying to Felix that the reason for him being in Jerusalem was not to cause disturbance but to bless the poor. We are involved in giving not for our own benefit for we know there are no guarantees.