On the surface, we give in response to something that connects with us. A cause or an organisation that we believe in or want to invest in. Usually this connection happens because we have firsthand experience with the issue. We may have seen the effects of poverty in a developing country, or homelessness here in Australia, or someone we know may have suffered from a disease or some other life altering situation and we want to do something to help.
Sometimes we respond to, what we might consider to be, biblical commands. We look at the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:3-4,
“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
We can feel like there is an expectation to give. It’s not an ‘if’, but a ‘when’. Jesus assumes it is already happening in the lives of those listening to him and He gives instructions on how to do it so that we can be rewarded.
In Leviticus 19:10 the Bible talks about the concept of not harvesting all of your land or stripping your vineyard bare, but leaving the last part for the poor or the foreigner to glean something to eat.
Proverbs 28:27 implores us to be generous to the poor and if we do we will never go hungry.
There are just a few insights into what the Bible talks about when it comes to giving and looking after the poor.
On a humanistic level, many people who wouldn’t connect with the biblical reasons to give would still talk about it being the ‘right thing to do’. They have this perspective of thankfulness for what they have and recognition that someone or some ‘ones’ have helped them along in their journey and they wish to do the same for others.
We may be giving to others because God commands us and we desire to please Him, or because it’s the right thing to do and a good way to pay back some of what has been given to us, or to create some good karma, therefore making us a good person. These may be some of the reasons that we might give.
But there‘s a deeper level that than. I am convinced that there is something within our genetic make-up, part of our moral fibre, the way we have been created, that drives us to help out someone when they are in need. It’s a strong driving force that comes from within us. It’s part of who we are. Now, we get to choose whether we listen to that part of ourselves or not, and the more we choose not to listen, the more difficult it can become to respond over time (and potentially it can create a negative response to organisations asking for money).
For me, it can be summed up in recognising that God’s heart is for people – He cares for all people equally, regardless of who they are, where they are, or what they’ve done. He loves without agenda or obligation or fear. In John 3:16 we read, “For God SO loved the world, He GAVE…” And we are made in His image.
As humans, we all have the same moral fibre – but our experiences and upbringing often shape the things we care about and connect with – some might be interested in international aid, others in domestic homelessness, others may have a focus on health or even a specific people group somewhere in the world.
I care about people having the chance to reach their full potential, but I don’t have the capacity to reach all people around the world on my own. However, I do what I can with what I have, wherever I am.
I believe that’s what we’re called to do – give what we can and trust that it can, and will, make a difference.
Also, it feels good. It brings us joy. And that’s the gift for us.