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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Serious question...

I have a question for all of my readers out there. I really do want your opinion. I have some very intellectual friends, and I KNOW you read my blog... so I better get some comments! However, I don't want this to turn into a nasty blog debate. You've seen them, you know what I am talking about.

I recently was exposed to a situation that I am trying to understand... Let's say you have the opportunity to help someone in need. It could be monetarily or through a service that you provide. The only stipulation is that you must receive permission and approval. The "rules" are put into place for tax and legal reasons and they are totally legitimate. Jesus instructed us to help the widows and orphans (those in need). What does He think of society's "rules" that have been put in place?

Having an accountant for a husband has enlightened me on how necessary these things are. Jeff explained to me tonight that these "rules" are put in place to protect the organization, and maybe even the giver. He also indicated that someone may be more likely to give to a non profit that is set up as a charitable organization for tax purposes. This may indicate that the non profit would be more responsible, better organized, and perhaps better positioned to help people in need. I do understand that we live in a fallen world, everything is not as easy as our Maker intended it to be. I am fascinated by things like "tax credits" and "tax deductions". However, I still have a hard time understanding why people would be motivated to give to a charitable organization just to lower their taxes. What if we just gave or helped out of sheer joy, the same joy that Jesus felt when he forgave the prostitute, or fed thousands?

I know that we can never totally understand everything that was written in the Bible, and that God didn't intend for us to understand everything. It is also ridiculous for me to think that I will every truly comprehend "giving selflessly with no ulterior motives". What do you believe? How do you think Jesus intended us to give?

I know, I know... you usually come to my blog for a light read, maybe even just the pictures! I do have deep thoughts...occasionally! :)

10 comments:

Ryan said...

That's a great question. I've heard good thoughts on both sides. One of my ACU professors talked about refusing to give money to a guy who would repeatedly "beg" from him and his church (after he had given to him for a while). The guy disappeared and the professor wondered if he was really loving the guy the best way possible. The conclusion he came to was that its not our job to watchdog God's checkbook. God has plenty to give and we don't need to over worry how that happens.

The other thought is from Sarah's sister. When they were in Chicago, someone begged a man on the train for his gloves because it was cold. Mandy got really frustrated because she said he could go and get free gloves in one of five places near by, but he wanted the expensive gloves so he could trade them for alcohol.
Which always seems to point me toward the story of the talents and the good stewart. God wants us to be good stewards of what we He has given us. Establishes organizations can put more use to what we give and ensure that the giving gets to those in need.

I tend to give through organizations/established ways or people I know (like friends who are missionaries now). But that's just me...

Andrea said...

I believe Jesus commands us to give from the heart...plain and simple. Whether that be through an organization with all the rules or the guy sitting on the street corner who can't hand you a receipt for tax purposes. I believe that God smiles upon us when he knows our true intent and even though we may not be able to get a deduction for it or the praise we sometimes feel due, he will bless us in so many other ways worth so much more! I also believe it breaks his heart to think of those he knows are giving for the wrong reasons.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Andrea, You should give from your heart regardless...that said, it is really disheartening to give and give and find out you were taken advantage of (like the man on the train that wanted the expensive gloves to trade for alcohol) I guess God will sort it all out.

Emily's Mom

sarah said...

ryan stole my story:)

my sister's point was that there were so many organizations available that could help him. she wanted to steer him there instead of having him be on a train making another couple feel bad because he couldn't get gloves. my sister's point was that he could get gloves if he was willing to go to the organizations set up to help him.

the organizations aren't perfect, and thats why my sister now works in government policy.

its flawed. but the rules protect the organizations and thereby make them more able to effect change in people's lives and the world.

an for whatever reason people give, i'm glad that others are being fed and clothed and cared for. How great that there are massive organizations whose sole purpose is to help. But to make that possible it takes fundraisers and so much more. and if a tax breaks makes it easier for someone to give I'm all for it.

i think everyday we should be loving and giving. and its more than writting a check. we're called to do...to love. we can do it by writting checks, but more i think God wants us to be the ones "doing" acts of love all the time without even thinking, beacuse its so much a part and extension of who we are.

Julie Christopher said...

hmm..good question Em. Organizations are good and serve great purposes. They truly do. I use to get annoyed with homeless people begging etc years ago and refused to help them because I didn't know what they would do with the money etc. Over time, God convicted my heart. Ryan and I give to numerous organizations monthly. we also supprt a few kids overseas. but god showed me that it's easy to write a check. what isn't so easy is investing in people. there is a homeless man that we feed weekly. when ryan went to give him some food the man looked at him and told him that he would only take it if ryan felt led to give it and that he didn't want ryan to have alterior motives (he didn't know a/b church or anything) and ryan assured him that we just wanted to help. over time the man has learned of him being a pastor and he has also learned that we truly, generally care for him. there have been nights that ryan couldn't find him and drove all over to hunt him down. we have fed him, we have clothed him..we have loved him. we have learned that he is most likely schizophrenic (sp) and he's been on the streets longer than I have been alive...he has begun to trust Ryan and over time Ryan has begun to be able to share Jesus with him. It's beautiful. I always think of the scripture where jesus tells us to give when we are asked and not to expect anything in return. he also tells us that sometimes we are entertaning angels. and he also tells us to give in private and not to boast about it to men for God has seen the good deeds that we have done.
God intends for us to give because he has given to us..freely.

Amanda said...

So, I would leave you a meaningful answer on this, but since we talked about it the other day, I figure you know how I feel about it, so I'll just say "Hi!"

Jennie said...

The "rules" are put into place because we live in an imperfect world where people do take advantage of a giving heart. I don't think it makes the spirit of giving tainted because society has put these laws or rules in place. I can still give generously and with a cheerful heart while declaring it on my tax return. Some do take advantage of the rules in place to benefit themselves. But basically what it comes down to is something that is not tangible...the spirit in which the service or gift was given...and ultimately that is not for us to determine. All that really matters is that we are challenged to give and to give generously in whatever way that means for the individual.

ABL said...

One of my ACU professors used to say, "We do not give to get, but instead give to get to give, to get to give, to get to give". While I agree that it somewhat taints the spirit of giving if you are just worried about tax implications, getting some benefit for the giving gives us opportunities to have more to give in some cases. I know that because my Company matches $ given to certain charitable organizations (that qualify), I am able to give more to an organization that I want to support than I would on my own. Just my two cents (tax free).

Allison said...

Good discussion! I 100% believe that giving is from the heart. Period. If you felt led to give to a homeless guy on the street, then give. Once we give it's not up to us to worry about what he/she did with our gift. God knows your heart and your motivation for giving. I truly think there is no better feeling than to help someone out in need.

Grandpa Turner said...

There's little joy in giving unless it's from the heart. But over the years I've learned that a lot of giving is wasted (like the glove example above). So the heart and the brain (which are the rules we put in place) are both necessary to separate "giving" from "being used." I even stipulate for a man that works for me that he cannot spend what I pay him on liquor (because he's violent when drunk). Christ did forgive the woman taken in adultery, but he said "go and sin no more."


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