By Kristyn Zollos
Recently, I have found myself faced with some reflective and often overwhelming thoughts very similar to Colleen’s entry on this blog (“Are Good Intentions Good Enough,” June 18, 2012). These thoughts weighed heavily upon my mind as I considered the causes that I had supported in the past. However, I found comfort in the idea that at least my intentions were good if not often misplaced, but were they?
Matthew 6:3-4 states, “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” I look back at so many times when I have supported different causes and think to myself, “Would I have given if it was done in secret? If there were not something in it for myself?” In the situations where I want something in return, whether it is a material item or praise of others, I’m choosing an earthly reward over the rewards given by the Lord. What a mistake that is, since I’m pretty sure the blessings of the Lord are far greater than any material reward or compliment I may receive when giving for the benefit of myself. As the ultimate question so often ends up being, to whom does the glory belong?
The last paycheck I received, I took the time to budget my savings and expenses to find how much spending I would have for the following weeks. I was excited to find that I had more than I had expected leftover, and was immediately plotting out purchases that I could make. I’m ashamed to say that my heart sunk slightly when I suddenly realized I had forgotten to subtract out my tithe. It almost pained me to dismiss the thoughts of the backpack that would have carried my stuff so nicely around town or the book at the store that I had been wanting to read. Needless to say, in that instance I was not a prime example of Biblical giving when compared to the model laid out before us by people throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Quite the standard was set when you look at the fellowship of the Christ-followers in the book of Acts. Acts 2:42-47 gives us an amazing example of what it means to be a community of believers. These people were devoted to the Lord and his teachings, and they were devoted to one another. Verse 45 states, “They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” They sold property and possessions. Something tells me it was not the clothes that had been sitting in the back of their closets unworn for the past three years or the rugged land unable to be farmed that they sold. I get the feeling that it was much more than that. But they made this choice, this sacrifice, for the benefit of those in need. And with this “they broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (46-47).” The people gave joyfully and with the purest of hearts and they were showered with God’s blessings, just as the Lord said would happen back in Matthew.
Giving should not be about jumping on the “bandwagon cause” that seems to come around every few months for that bracelet or pair of shoes to show what a good and conscientious person I am. Giving should not be about a name on a building or the compliments of peers. Giving should be about praising and worshipping the Lord not just physically and emotionally, but financially as well. Our giving should be an outpouring of our love for God into the community around us and around the world, just as it was in Acts. For when we give out of love and without expectations of personal benefits that is when we receive the blessings of the Lord, the greatest of rewards imaginable.