Friday, November 19, 2010

Public Giving

To whoever reads this:
I wrote this shortly after reading about the event that I mention in the post. This event made me think about the state of giving in our country and how it needs to change. Hope that the following is an inspiration to you.

            If you watch any daytime television shows like Oprah, well, quite frankly you could find a better use for your time. However, everyone stumbles at one time or another, so if you happen to fall into the aforementioned category, there’s hope. Anyway, since I’m about to comment on Oprah’s show, it can be easily deduced that I, sad as it is, have seen it for a very small amount of time. So yes, I have at least a vague idea of what I am writing about.
            If you’ve seen Oprah for very long at all, you probably know that she is constantly giving things away and, a lot of times, has people on the show who are donating large amounts of money to various causes. One of the latest of these contributions was from Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. He donated $100 million dollars to the troubled school system of Newark. Now before I go any further, let me say that I have the highest respect for people who donate their own resources. In no way am I deriding the act of giving, just the way in which it is done.
            A billionaire is donating a lot of money to a school system that is in trouble. This donation will probably help a lot of people, so what problem could I possibly have with it? As I said, the donation is not the problem, but the way in which it was given. Here is the issue that I have with the method of donation. I am not a person who reads a lot of news or is very informed on current events, yet even I know about the donation, so obviously it was done in a very public fashion.
So what is the issue? Lots of people make public donations; it helps people and, quite frankly, is good for their publicity. If earthly rewards are all that Mark Zuckerberg is looking for, there was nothing wrong with the way that he donated. People will look at him in a better light. They can say, “Look at him! He donated $100 million to help American school children!” That will be Mr. Zuckerberg’s reward. But I would put forth the theory that there is a much larger and better reward that you can receive from giving, one that Mr. Zuckerberg is missing out on because he chose to take the earthly reward.

Matthew 6:2-4 says, 2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (NIV)

            When he decided to donate his money, Mr. Zuckerberg had two options. He could do it publicly and receive an earthly reward, or he could have done it secretly and received a heavenly reward. He chose the former option, and so lost out on the better reward. There is one other issue that I would take with all of the hype surrounding Mr. Zuckerberg’s donation. Sure, he gave $100 million, but what is that to a billionaire? Let me clarify that I strongly believe that Mr. Zuckerberg’s money is his own, and that he has the right to do whatever he wants with it, but I will ask the question, “Is he giving enough?”

            Luke 12:47-48 says, “47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

          The statement, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded,” doesn’t mean that someone who is rich should give a “lot” of money. Rather, it means that people, no matter how much they earn, should give so much that they have to sacrifice other things, or, as I have heard it said, “they should give until it hurts.” Obviously this means that people with more money will give more than those who were not given so much; however, the gift of each of them will be seen as equal in God’s sight. “Man looks at the outward appearance (how much is given) but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:8 NIV)
            All of this being said, what are the normal people of the world supposed to do? With rich people giving a million here and twenty million there, our gifts of twenty, thirty, forty dollars don’t seem significant at all. But this doesn’t mean that you should stop giving! Remember that God considers your smaller gifts that you have to sacrifice to give to be more important than a million dollar gift for which no sacrifice is required. So continue (or start) to give and God will use what you give to accomplish His purposes. Oh, and one last thing, give and sacrifice in silence. In this way you will lay up for yourself treasure in heaven.

Hope that you have enjoyed this latest installment of my blog. Thank you again for reading.

Peter Last

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