Nederlands: bijbeluitgave 1611

Nederlands: bijbeluitgave 1611 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Samaritan's Purse

Samaritan’s Purse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Worldvision Enterprises

Worldvision Enterprises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew 6

Do Good to Please God

6 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.[a]

What are the boundaries on giving? What is the way we are to do this? This passage in Matthew during the Sermon on the Mount is jarring to our 21st century ear. Where we are used to be rewarded for our good works, or “charity” (and yes I cringe at the word C-H-A-R-I-T-Y for it implies that I know better than those I am trying to build community with, it is a power word and yes we need to acknowledge this).

So this came passage came up in the adult Sunday School class today in our discussion around Hospitality (a lifestyle for Christians is the underlying ethos of this educational series).  But the words of this passage struck me.

For it is so counter to what we are used to.

I remember as a youth pastor terminating my youth groups relationship with WorldVision, not because we did not believe in what they did (we actually still did a 30 hour famine for a non-profit), no the relationship was ended because, simply, the one that reached certain levels of donations were given rewards.

There was two things wrong with this:

1) It rewarded those of higher socio-economics

2) It built a discipleship mechanism that we are too expect to be rewarded or given something tangible for our willingness to give.

These were 2 messages I found counter to the Gospel of building a just world.

But there are so many other ways in the church we perpetuate this you must receive to give, and do to get, here are a few short examples to reflect on:

1) Tax receipts: do we give to our church because we believe int he mission? Feel called? or know that we will receive a kick back at year end tax season? What if the churches lost their tax exempt status?? Would we still financially support our church?

2) Building projects and fundraisers where we do door prizes and other prize draws to “reward” those who give… what is the underlying message here?

3) How do we share our stories when we do good work? Do we celebrate the individuals or the community? Is there a difference?

4) How do we do missions? At one point (I do not know if they still do this) Samaritan’s Purse required the families and children receiving shoe boxes to have to attend church to receive the present. Is this right? Should we expect someone to do something to receive blessing?

Hmmm…

Just points to ponder…with one final quesiton:

Are we called to charity or to justice?

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