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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Supporting Charity

Sometimes the numbers are overwhelming. I'm talking about requests from friends and relatives, co-workers and neighbors ... to support their latest charity initiative.

When I was a teen-ager, I remember rocking in a rocking chair for over 24 hours - to raise money for a mission trip. I rocked, and raised more money than any of the other kids. There was a girl on my school bus whose Dad had made a lot of money in coal. He'd divorced her mother and moved to Tennessee. But being the enterprising young man that I was, I wrote to him and ask him to help me. He'd never met me, but my connection with his daughter apparently moved him to write a big check. It put me way ahead of the pack of other teen-agers who were "off their rockers" that weekend. (Sorry --- I just could resist the pun!)

Anyway, I digress. I should have realized it back then in my teen-age years. I should have seen it coming. Today, the Girl Scout cookies, the Brownie popcorn, the Boy Scout candy, the grade school wrapping paper, and of course those church youth groups with their car washes, mission trips, etc. Everyone wants you to do something to support whatever charity or non-profit endeavor they feel called to. But it doesn't end there either.

Look in the newspapers or get on-line and it doesn't take you long to see a myriad of opportunities to support your favorite charity. The latest headline I read this week was titled, "10 Ways to Support Charity Through Social Media." It's a story about how I can Twitter my favorite charity to success. Of course you can shop to benefit charity, dine out to benefit charity, have the grocery store funnel money to charity, have your credit card funnel money to charity, and on it goes.

I'm sorry, but I'm looking at God's Word. It says we are to love and serve God above all others. It says we are to love each other (our neighbor). I wonder if these gimmicks amount to love. Does raising money for the church youth group show my love for God? Does shopping at Kroger and directing some of the proceeds to charity show how much I love my neighbor?

Don't get me wrong. Americans have always been considered a generous lot. It's been said that we give more money than any nation on earth ever has. I believe that is probably true. But I think it can be argued that we give out of our excess. Few of us are giving sacrificially. Statistically, Americans are giving less than 3% of their income to charity. That's not tithing. That's not generous. And I dare say that it isn't love.

Wouldn't it be more loving if we each tried to out give one another? Wouldn't it be more effective if we each tried to out serve one another? Instead of sending our kids around the neighborhood to sell popcorn or wrapping paper --- how about we teach our kids to love God and teach them to love others? That would be, of course, instead of teaching them how to sell crap that people don't need and really don't want to buy --- but purchase anyway because the kids are so cute, it's "for a good cause," or because we fell guilty if we don't.

I'm all for charity. But my wife and I pray over our money and we give where God directs us. We're giving considerably more than 10% to our church alone. And we give well beyond that too. We serve others by volunteering our time, our home and whatever else we can serve with. And yet, here comes the requests.

Shop for Jesus. Dance for diabetes. Race for the cure. It makes me wonder if I didn't step into some quagmire back in those teen-age days when I rocked for a mission trip. Between Marlo Thomas, Lance Armstrong, Sally Struthers and Susan Komen - I think I need to find that girl on the school bus, write to her Dad again and see if he can help me out of this mess

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