Saturday, February 25, 2017

Third Party Giving

We talk a good bit about giving in my classes. This is from April 8, 2013.
Our memory verse in my Gospels classes this past Friday was taken from James 2:5-6A: 
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?  But you have dishonored the poor.
We spoke a little bit about how we dress for worship services in our culture and I told them I wear a suit on Sunday morning, jeans on Sunday evening, and shorts on Wednesday night. I also asked about dressing for weddings and funerals in terms of being respectful to those honored. But we also talked how the dear brothers James addresses his thoughts to have discriminated against those in poverty simply because of the way they are dressed in their assemblies while favoring those who can afford to dress fashionably. I mentioned that one thing I like about the school uniforms we wear is that it is much harder to tell who has money, but it's also reasonable to assume not many children in private and Christian schools are living below the poverty line.

Recently, my classes have looked at several incidents involving Jesus and two pretty well off guys. In the story of what we call the rich young ruler who wanted to know how to get eternal life, Jesus gives him the three point answer:
1. Sell everything you have 
2. Give it to the poor
3. Come follow me

We are told the young man, who had some very admirable qualities, walked away sadly because he was a man of great wealth. I pointed out something in point # 2 that I hope they caught. Jesus did not tell him to take the proceeds of his estate sale and give it to the church...or the priest or the temple. Instead, as we read, it was to be given to the poor. We also looked at the scenario with Zacchaeus in Luke 19. In his public proclamation when Jesus goes home with him, the diminutive tax collector of Jericho declares he will immediately give half of his possessions to the poor as well as offering to pay back four times what he has taken dishonestly from any other, according to the Law of Moses. Again, we discuss that Jesus praised the pledge by Zacchaeus and did not tell him to instead hand over fifty percent of his wealth to the synagogue or some humanitarian organization or even to Jesus Himself. It went straight to the poor.

This afternoon, I visited Rachel Matthys who is in charge of our Funathon, an annual fund raiser at WCS, which this year will benefit our robotics program. (Once again, my suggestion for a t-shirt theme of Fun Nation Under God was unjustly shot down....) I wrote a check and we talked about being good stewards and accounting for every penny we give. And that's the problem for me at times. To maximize my IRS refund every spring, I faithfully log in every charitable donation to our congregation, my school, the mission groups in Haiti and Honduras we work with, other people's mission trips as well as my own, etc. Don't get me wrong- the scriptures plainly teach giving to the church for the furtherance of the Kingdom. But that does not overrule my obligation to help the poor that I am convinced God puts into my path. You see the picture at the top? It's off the Internet but it could be Honduras- I've witnessed that scene more times than I can recount. But the poor we often intersect with don't have the luxury of making a budget proposal or waiting out a check request. Or waiting for me to make my IRS approved contribution so I can call myself a good steward and make the Lord proud. I'm pretty sure these words never crossed the lips of Jesus, even accounting for translation from Aramaic to English: "I'll get back to you."  I wonder if He ever got audited?

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1 comment:

Christy McDonald said...

I can relate completely to this one. It is one I struggle with. I need to study this further and go to God in pray to guide me where to give my funds and my time. Thanks for the post tonight, Coach! It was one I needed to hear.