With all this talk about giving and stewardship, it’s important that we are not afraid to stop from time to time and ask ourselves – does all this giving making a difference?
We all give for a variety of reasons. People who are not religious may give to take advantage of tax breaks or just because they like to give. People of faith are often called and urged to give with a call to remember what God has done for them. (Although, a lot of us don’t mind the tax breaks either.)
Regardless of how much we give and why we give, the ultimate idea is that we make the world a better place through our sharing with one another. A person who owns two coats gives one to someone in need. A home is built with time and money shared by groups of Christians and neighbors. Ten dollars buys bags of rice and grain to feed a family in the midst of a drought. Giving creates a channel through which others are blessed.
Sometimes, though, our giving may not seem to leave an indelible impact. You may toss in ten bucks to help struggling families in some part of the world, and you may hear of their need again in a year. You may donate old clothes to a clothing ministry only to find out that more and more are needed. You work tirelessly with a local organization to end homelessness and discover that the numbers of homeless in your community continue to rise. The reality is that the world is complex – our giving is not the only solution to the broken systems that dehumanize and destroy people. We have a lot to learn and understand in that regard.
In the meanwhile, what sustains us is the joy that comes from our giving – a joy that opens doors to new ways of seeing and being in this world. Take it from Shane Claiborne’s book, The Irresistible Revolution:
People who experiment in sharing may begin out of burden or guilt, but they are sustained by the matchless joy it brings. What delight it is to see others receive the gifts of God, especially when they have been deprived of them for far too long. One of the beggars in Calcutta approached me on day, and I had no money on me, but I felt a piece of gum in my pocket, so I handed it to her. I have no idea how long it had been since she had chewed gum, or if she had ever even had the chance. She looked at it and smiled with delight. Then she tore it into three pieces and handed one to me and one to my friend so we could share the excitement.
Every time you give, imagine that image in your mind – someone receiving with joy even the littlest blessing that you may offer and splitting it up to share with others. Giving can change our world by starting thousands and millions of these chain effects, ripples of sharing from person to person in need. Of course, you got to be willing to do your part, keep the change going by being a steward of what God shares with us in the first place. Are you willing?