Asking for Money is Okay…

These days, there’s a lot of work to do. Of this we can all agree. Whether your focus is on providing for yourself, your family, your future or looking to change something in the world that is not right, we all have a long ‘to-do’ list and limited time. The main issue is that there are few tangible indicators that tell us when we have achieved what we have set out to do. There is always something extra to work towards. More money to make, more security to provide, more protection to put into place, more awareness to create, more projects to start, more money to raise. There is always more.

For me, it has always been about providing hope and security for kids in developing countries. Within any community it is children, the elderly and people with a disability who are most vulnerable, and more often than not you can add women to that list. My heart has been to enable vulnerable children to reach their full potential in life, through getting the right nutrition, access to education and a safe place to grow up and engage their creativity. As a world we have come a long way but with 161 million children globally suffering from stunting due to an insufficient intake of nutrients, and 124 million children and adolescents who are not attending school, there is much to do.

I have highlighted recently a few things that hopefully give people a chance to ask some questions around giving money.  If, when, how, why and to what you give to is such a personal experience and I believe the worst thing that we can do is to not talk about it. The more we do talk about it the more we learn about giving and philanthropy. I once heard someone tell me that they didn’t want to hear any more about giving money – they had decided to give and they knew all that they needed to about it. A part of me died inside, not only because it was someone refusing to engage is a subject that I care about, but because this attitude is dangerous in all areas of life. If we ever reach a point when we feel like we have learned all that we need to about a subject then we have stopped living, and we have become proud and arrogant. There is always more to learn. So, we keep talking about it.

I ask people for money. That’s what I do. It sounds a little weird when you say it out loud but essentially that’s my job. A few years ago I had an epiphany that helped me to understand why I do what I do. Firstly, I fundraise because it is good for the people that I serve. I believe that all people deserve the ability to reach their God-given potential, and the organisation I work for are leading the way in ensuring that this happens.

Secondly, I fundraise because it is good for the giver. I have often mentioned that we are designed to give back and it is actually good for us to do so, so when I ask someone to give money towards life-changing, life-giving work, I am not asking for my benefit or for the benefit of the people we serve alone, but it is also for the benefit of those who give. If I didn’t ask people to get involved in this, then I would be doing them a dis-service by robbing them of an opportunity to engage in something that they will enjoy. The worst they can do is say no, and I’m okay with that. It means they have thought about it and made the decision that it is not for them at this time, but I always hold hope for the future…

Giving is a necessary part of life because in our world, a few people have most of the wealth and most people only have some of the wealth. We work to make things a little better and ask people to give to that.  I have come to the conclusion that it is okay to ask for money. And it’s okay for people to choose not to give. But it’s not okay to make people feel guilty about what they do or do not give to.

When God doesn’t want you to give…

Often people will talk about giving money to something with a matter of urgency, stressing that now is the time to give. I certainly think that there is a right time to give money and a wrong time. I also think that there are times when God doesn’t want you to give. I am not talking about God telling us that there are specific organisations or causes that might not be a good place to give money to, I am talking about what is happening inside us when we part with our money.

So here are two reasons that God doesn’t want your money…

1. If you are trying to get something…

As I understand the definition of witchcraft, it is when a person invokes, or conjures a being to do their own bidding. If we follow that through to its natural progression, then the act of witchcraft is possibly not too far away from our own doors. You may think that’s a bit of a stretch but if we give of our money to God through the church or other organisations for the sole purpose of receiving a benefit then we are attempting to conjure something through our own efforts. Giving is a deeply spiritual event, it is an act of worship. Out of that worship good things come, not because we earnt them, or bought them, but because God is good and he chooses to bless us and the money given gets used for some amazing work.

Simon the Sorcerer faced this in Acts chapter 8. When he saw Peter and John laying hands on people, who then received the Holy Spirit as a result, he wanted to do that to. He offered the disciples money so that he could receive the ability to do what they were doing (vs 18.). Peter then tears strips off him, saying that “his heart was not right before God” (vs 21) and he was “full of bitterness and captive to sin” (vs 23).

Really, his desire was good, to be part of spreading the love and message of Jesus to people, but his motivation and understanding about God was all wrong. He was known for being a sorcerer and he received a great deal of attention as a result, but when he saw some new type of ‘sorcery’ that he didn’t recognise, he wanted to be part of it to maintain the profile. So he offered to pay for it. Peter was quick to point out that God doesn’t work that way; God is a God of grace whose love does not depend on our merit.

If you have been around a church for a while, then you would probably know the concepts of how God sees people. He looks at the heart, He cares about what is inside and not what is outside, He cares more about what a person is, rather than what a person does. These are all nice things to say but if we don’t actually believe them then we can find that we try to buy God off or at least attempt to shape His opinion with our money. God doesn’t want that.

2. If you feel like you have to…

God doesn’t want to pry your wallet or purse open. He’s not lying in wait to rob us of our hard earned cash.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this to the Corinthian church

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Cor 9:7.

If you give money because it is the ‘right thing to do’, or you feel like you have to, then you need to ask yourself “Why?”, because it’s likely that you could be giving for the wrong motivation, and I don’t think God wants that for you. We are implored to give, but “not reluctantly or under compulsion”. If you are giving money, and hating it, stop. We’ve already talked about how God doesn’t need your money (previous post) and in this case I believe He doesn’t want it. Giving comes from the heart, if the heart is not in it then it’s not giving.

So how should we give?

Cheerfully

God loves it when we give. He loves it when we give cheerfully. If you are reluctant or feel obliged, God not only doesn’t need your money, He doesn’t want it!

The reason to give is simple. We give in response to what we have been given. We are blessed to be a blessing. We are generous because God is generous and we have been created in His image. The language we may use to explain that could be “I give because it is the right thing to do” or “I feel like I need to give back”, but the litmus test is the attitude, the cheerfulness.

Do we give because we are cheerful, or do we become cheerful because we give? I feel like it is the former, but if you are not cheerful and are thinking about giving, definitely try that and see what the result is.

Without Fear

We hear quite frequently that money is the root of all evil, but that’s simply not true. It is the love of money (1 Tim 6:10) that is the root of all evil. Money itself is just at thing that we can either use or be used by. The choice is ours. I don’t think there is an in-between. We master our money, or our money masters us. The way to tell is if we are willing to give it away…

Don’t get me wrong, being dedicated and detailed about your finances doesn’t make you someone who is being mastered by money, just like being ignorant about what and how you spend doesn’t make you someone who is a master over money. The way that we go about managing our finances is not how we judge this, but it is the heart that motivates the management. Don’t be afraid to be intentional about your money, we don’t need to be afraid of it is working for us.

All this being said, giving money is still a sacrificial act, even a painful one at times, but we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing with us when we leave (1 Timothy 6:7). So, while we live, let’s do what we can with what we have been given.