Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Giving Tuesday

I learned something yesterday. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has become known (or is in the process of becoming known) as “Giving Tuesday” during which we are encouraged to give to charity. Charities asking for donations during the holiday season isn’t a new thing. In fact, I was just working on our Church “Christmas Appeal” yesterday coincidentally of course. So why I am blogging about “Giving Tuesday” today?
Today’s Epistle Reading: St. Paul's First Letter to Timothy 5:22-25; 6:1-11 - TIMOTHY, my son, do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor participate in another man's sins; keep yourself pure. No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. The sins of some men are conspicuous, pointing to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good deeds are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden. Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brethren; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties. If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. But as for you, man of God, shun all this.
The human struggle between greed and generosity is an old struggle, and many have “wandered away” from the true teaching of the Church in hopes to become wealthy. Still something bothered me yesterday about “Giving Tuesday” that I wanted to share. WHY do we even NEED a day to encourage people to give to charities? Is it to soothe our guilty consciences? Do we somehow know that our shopping sprees and wealth building is leading our soul away from God? Or have professional fundraisers perfected the “art of the ask” when it comes to charitable giving?

I watched an interview yesterday with a representative from the organization spearheading “Giving Tuesday” and what struck me was the lack of purpose behind the giving. According to the organizers website, ">GivingTuesday connects diverse groups of individuals, communities and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving.” And then it occurred to me.... “Giving Tuesday” is a MOVEMENT, and I am always skeptical of movements. Movements are mean to “move people” from one place to another, so my question is, “To where does the “Giving Tuesday Movement” desire to move the world if not toward the Church? There is NO mention of God or religion among the information for volunteers and organizations. The only reference to God/Church/Religion was a list of religious organizations that profited from the movement. What I DID find was a bunch of gimmicks used to increase fundraising dollars. Even the list of religious organizations was more of a “you can get some too” presentation without praise for the actual Christian work being done. The implication was “Just list your cause and you too can be rich.”

As Christians our giving is not a movement, nor is it a gimmick; and it is most certainly NOT a tool to unite the globe. It is an expression of OUR LOVE FOR JESUS CHRIST. If all “Giving Tuesday” is going to accomplish to increase the donations collected for charitable organizations rather than bring Jesus Christ into the hearts of the people, isn’t Giving Tuesday just another “love of money” exercise under the disguise of giving?

And then there was another post I came across yesterday from Pflag urging people to stop donating to the Salvation Army because the Salvation Army opposes gay marriage despite the hundreds of thousands each year who benefit from the outreach and assistance which they otherwise would not receive if not for the Salvation Army. I found the post painfully ironic since we are often told to ignore a minor detail like abortion in favor of the great work of Planned Parenthood as reasons why we should fund that organization.

Ultimately I’m quite sure many good and holy organizations received benefit from “Giving Tuesday” yesterday, and for that I am thankful. But when our Christian life is limited to “doing good things” than we no longer need Christ. We become a “Dogooder” rather than a Christian.

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