Giving is Spiritual

Recently I made the case that giving is a spiritual activity. I came across a few quotations supporting that point and I thought I’d share them.

Giving Because Mankind is My Business

Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol is one of my favorite stories about redemption. We see a crusty, stingy man transformed into a kind and benevolent giver. At one point, Scrooge replies to Marley’s ghost that Marley had always been a good man of business. He responds:

Business! Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Dickens was saying that the world and money and fundraising are primarily about helping others and not about commerce. Business is certainly a vehicle for that, but it’s really a means to benevolent ends. In fact, Dickens said as much when he noted, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

Giving so Love is Manifest

Mother Theresa said that giving is actually a manifestation of love. She explained, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

If you don’t love people you’re not likely to be compelled to help them by giving. And even if you do, it’s a lot less meaningful if your motivation is something other than love. Robert Louis Stevenson made that point when he said, “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.”

Giving Beyond a Tip

It’s relatively easy to give a few dollars to a bell ringer at Christmas, or to buy a few boxes of girl-scout cookies or give $50 to volunteer firefighters. That kind of giving is important, but for most it’s more of a tip than a gift.

In my capital campaign consulting, I’ve found that major giving requires a time of reflection prompted by hearing or experiencing a compelling case. In fact, as a university vice president, one of my responsibilities was to tell our story, and then invite people to share our vision and make a major gift. I found (painfully) that good-sized gifts rarely came from one visit. People need time to think, discuss and often pray about the request. As fundraising consultants, we advise our clients to incorporate this mentality into their major gift requests.

Part of that time is used to answer critical questions. Is what they’re asking affordable? How are people affected by their work? How will my gift touch more people? What am I being led to do? That’s why I wrote previously that giving is a spiritual experience, particularly if I’m trying to give from the heart with grace.

Giving Under Grace

John Paul Warren explained the difference between giving under grace and under law.

When you give under “compulsion” or “Grudgingly” you are giving under the law of giving and not grace. God loves a cheerful (thankful) giver, which is giving under grace.”

Grace is unmerited favor. When people give under grace they’re giving freely to someone or something at a major level, knowing that the organization or individual will never repay them. That’s really the point of grace.

The famed John Wesley reminds us that it’s, “Not, how much of my money will I give to God, but, how much of God’s money will I keep for myself?”

Unfortunately, when it comes to giving, many of us operate as Oswald Chambers described, “like the Dead Sea, always taking in but never giving out.”

Celebrating the Greatest Gift

This season we ready ourselves to celebrate God’s greatest gift to us. In the spirit of that grace let us give generously, knowing that our redemption is freely given to us through God’s costly benevolence; namely the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.