Giving Freely

Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.

Psalm 112:5, NIV

We frequently hear admonishments about giving and sharing with others. Countless Sunday school lessons and sermons have been based on this subject. Even secular society encourages giving: our time, our talents, our money, whatever it is that will help improve the plight of our fellow human beings whom for whatever reasons are struggling. But what are our true reasons for giving? Is it a desire to be seen by others? To give so that we will receive benefits ourselves? Or is it because we feel pressured? Case in point: ┬ámission trips. I attend a church that for years has stressed giving to missions. More recently, they are encouraging members to become more involved by actually going ON mission trips. A couple of months ago, our pastor sermonized about change and how the oldest church elder we have is “finally” going on a mission trip. This man was part of the original founding group of our church in the early 1960’s. This will be the first time he has actually participated in a trip, and the pastor is quite excited at how one of the oldest people in our group is changing and putting feet on his actions.

Really? Now, I don’t know this elder very well, and maybe the whole problem is that I have been on the fringe for years due to my work schedule and various other things. But my impression has always been that he and his wife are genuine. No question. So my gut reaction to the pastor’s comment is “why is this a big deal?” Maybe pastor is just excited that someone from the “older” generation wants to “do” rather than just donate money. But for some reason the underlying tone for me was “if you’re not volunteering, you’re not doing enough.” But what if I just don’t feel called? Or if I don’t feel now is the time? What if what I’m doing right now in my paying job IS my calling? Why isn’t that enough?