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Rich or Blind – a Perspective on Giving. — 36 Comments

  1. I like what you said Maurice about spending time with them. Time is the substance of our life, so when we give our time we are literally giving our life and that is the most precious gift you can give. Time and relationships. And their time is just as precious as our time, so when spend time together we are helping each other and neither party is better than "them."

    • Time what a fleeing object. I give often without bringing attention to myself
      . I chose to give in a ways that encourage the receiver and not to enable them. I am more of an administrator when I minister to others affecting groups of people as oppose to individuals. With so many people in need how can one balance their time helping others individually without enabling those who haven't gotten the victory in over coming their circumstances ?

      • I agree with much you've said. through last week's lesson "Weep or Howl, I came to the realization that I do have opportunity to minister time to individuals. Often, waiting at the bus stop for my bus home, a homeless person wil come begging for money. I turn up my nose and reply "Ihave no change". Now though, what if I took the time to talk? I don't know what that may look like, but I do know I won't be turning my nose up in superior "i have and you don't" attitude which I felt I had.

  2. What I have learned is those who we consider primitive have skills that are appropriate for their environment. In anthropology we learn about some tribes living near the polar extremes that have more than six words for ice that cover the various forms they experience and they have learned ways to navigate in that environment that we in more southern parts of the world know nothing about. They are smart and have adapted to where they live extremely well.

    For instance, the American Plains Indian had a tepee for a house and architectural studies have been conducted on them. What they found was that of all the housing structures in the world they are the most versatile and can hold up to almost any meteorological condition except violent storms such as tornadoes - obviously.

    Furthermore, in the past we have pitied the poor hunter-gather tribes in the world that we considered a generation removed from the cave man but again studies have shown that they usually have a more robust diet than industrialized nations have with a daily dietary intake of more than 2000 calories. As my anthropology professor used to say, "I have never seen a picture of a starving Dobe Ju/'hoansi." But the tribe is changing and I don't think they are hunter gathers anymore - more like us sick undernourished westerners who think we are doing great with hamburgers and milkshakes. As a mechanic many years ago once said, "Some call it progress."

    African people are not lazy and they are not stupid so I agree with Maurice that we often make them feel subhuman and humiliate them by our arrogance. I think that is one of the reasons why the US is hated so much in the world.

  3. I agree where possible, create opportunities for people to earn extra income. Remember the parable of the landowner who paid everyone a days wage even those who only worked for an hour.
    At the moment the going rate here for domestic work is R12/hour, a woman who works in our storeroom offered to clean my bedsitter during her lunch hour once a week and I pay her R50 a time, which is 4 x the going rate. I get the benefit of a clean home and she earns extra and keeps her dignity. If we look for them the LORD will show us a way to share His love and resources with others in a way that maintains their dignity.

  4. We also make/give donations to Western organizations - Red Cross, Cancer Societies, and many others. The "poor' in Africa are not the only ones receiving. And most times they receive what we do not want - expired medicines, useless junk, etc. Sometimes a few good things. How do we then stack up with our giving to Western organizations? And JESUS did say our right hand should not know what our left hand is doing. So obviously when we take pictures and tell others how much we give and what we have done such is only for self. According to the Bible we don't please GOD that way.

  5. I agree with all the above comments. However, please do not stop giving financially for the welfare of others (we'd never advocate for people to stop giving tithes and offerings here in the US and in other developed nations just because they might become prideful).
    Just pray for humility and the right spirit in your heart when you give (remember God Himself has given us the means to give; it didn't come from us). And also pray for God to protect your sacrificial gift and route it to where it can do the best good. He WILL watch over it.

  6. I guess the question then is to give or not to give? Regardless of studies and opinion, I am sure that what ever information you have gleaned it is limited to what you have seen with your own eyes or what ever second hand sources you are confident with. I will never be able to visit all the places in the world that suffer from a multitude of inadequacies. When I see pictures of mothers in Ethiopia carrying a baby that eyes are sunken and you can count ribs that are covered by shrunken skin because there is no food. I am supposed to give it some thought and weigh the options? If that leaves a question as to what is needed, pardon me for wanting to feed everyone in the world that is starving. If God gave me that ability it would be done immediately.

    • Dear Brother Blanke,
      I agree about your donations according to what your heart leads you. I would like to comment about the "pictures of Ethiopian mothers with children of sunken eyes and ribs that count" I must say as an Ethiopian who had witnessed the famine of the 1984 first hand, the positive effects of the aid generously given in response; however, i am also aware on how the Charity industry have evolved in years and often misleading the western audience in order to get donations. Sometimes recycling pictures from 1984/85 in order to touch the hearts of the donors. I agree with the author of this article how much of the aids today are becoming disempowering and undermining the capabilities of this people. Also I can not argue in favor of stopping aid all together, but it is worth exploring where the money is spent( some organizations spend million on administration and hardly 25% of the money raised reaches the beneficiaries).
      God bless!

      • I would still like to find where in Isa 58 and Matt 25, or anywhere in Scripture, that the limitations and assessments of giving to persons in poverty/hardship/need is presented in Scripture.
        Why did Jesus heal every sick person in certain villages he passed through, without assessing what they will do with their new found health? The man who was paralyzed for 38 years was healed without faith, without request or permission given, and without a change of heart. Jesus saw him in the temple later and said to him: "Go and sin no more lest a worse thing happen to you". He went back to the priests and reported that Jesus healed him. Thereafter, Jesus stayed away from the Temple because of the persecution of the Jews. Foolish decision by Jesus for not making an assessment of the outcome in healing this man who is paralyzed in body and mind and heart?
        The Father gave 50% of his earnings to a "prodigal son", a bum who only had skills to be hired to feed pigs, knowing he was going to blow all all that wealth in less than a year, without conscience, gratitude or common sense. Assessment? I think the Catholic Priest on MT. St. Benedict offers me a better example of the method of Jesus Christ than I find among my brethren today.

        • @Humford Thomas to your request re:limitation on giving found in scrpiture: Matthew 7:6; 2 thessalonians 3:10. Please consider these limitations as you take the time to develop the necessary relationships of helping others. Jesus knew the thinking of those he helped. we can do the same through time as their fruit will be shown.

        • Hurford, I think you raise an important question and make a good point about our relationship to others. To me the answer to your question is "it depends." Certainly Jesus generally healed without regard to outcome, but not always. For instance, when He was at Nazareth where He was raised, "Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them" (Mk. 6:5 NKJ)) so there are limitations.

          Then there are some things in the Bible that are pertinent to your question as Kris Laus pointed out:
          "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces" (Matt. 7:6 NKJV). This is a text that seems out of context but what do we do with it in spite of that? Besides that the entire chapter of 2 Thess 3 is also of interest in this respect where Paul tells that church to disregard certain types of people.

          Then there is a couple of other things Paul said, "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!" (Phil. 3:2 NKJV) and "Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words" (2 Tim. 4:14-15 NKJV). These are warnings so does that mean those people should be sought out and benefitted rather than heading the warning to stay away from them?

          I think we can summarize these things by saying that God expects us to be wise in our dealing with people, not as fools or the proverbial bull in a china shop. To me when there is a question concerning someone we should always "err on the side of mercy" (Education, p 294) and do what we can but we should be aware that there will be times when doing something is worse than doing nothing. We are not to support the enemy and make it easier for him to fight against the truth nor are we to put our stamp of approval on known sin. That is one reason why we are warned and counseled to "test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 Jn. 4:1 NKJV) and "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matt. 7:15 NKJV). In others words there are some people who we would be wise in not messing with just as Jesus told His disciples concerning the Pharisees, "Let them alone" (Matt. 15:14 NKJ).

          As for the parable of the prodigal son, the point of the parable is not the younger son but the older one who had no mercy for it was said after the "Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, 'This Man receives sinners and eats with them'" (Lk. 15:2 NKJV). Therefore, the parable is not dealing with the custom of the day concerning inheritance but about the attitude of the Pharisees toward sinners who needed mercy and acceptance.

          The man at the pool of Bethesda wanted to be healed and in that instance how could the Son of God refuse even if it meant trouble to Him being on the Sabbath.

  7. In Trinidad & Tobago, mini-buses will run all day taking literally hundreds of people to Mt. St. Benedict every Tuesday of every week. These people would each receive a bag with food supplies and an envelope with $250. (likely more now). An SDA Professor of Theology who had gone to the Catholic Seminary on Mt. St. Benedict to do research asked the Priest how they were able to afford it. He advised: "Come back on Thursday and you will see". Our SDA University Professor returned on Thursday. What he saw was to him nothing short of stunning. All day, cars with businessmen/owners from the cities drove in, each bringing a large bag, sometimes "suitcases literally full of money", and deliver it to the Priest. None even waited for a count or receipt for tax exemption. They just gave.
    "That is what takes care of the people."

    YAHWEH said: "They seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. 3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge ? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours."
    Then YAHWEH asks: "Is it such a fast that I have chosen"?
    Then SHEIKH YAHWEH, living out there among the poor, healing all manner of diseases, and lifting up the fallen, proposes His own cultural and spiritual perspective: "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?" (Isa 58)

    Jesus Christ, SHEIKH YAHWEH in human flesh, proposes the right to make feeding the hungry and clothing the naked a basis for salvation, beyond "believing" in the Second Coming. He specifically presents His Personal Position right after answering the question of end-time conditions (Matt 24). Three parables: 1. "Oil or no oil (anointing or no anointing, love or no love); 2. Talent (aprox US $10,000. to $15,000. in today's coinage) to responsibly invest and be trusted, or bury His gold and take jail time; 3. "Come ye blessed of my Father, for when I was hungry you fed me"........or...

    [political comment redacted]
    The LORD GOD predicted 2000 years ago: "You think you are rich and increased" but you are "miserable and blind and naked". Jesus Christ was describing the thinking of Seventh-day Adventist Thinkers and Preachers and Writers in today's world: "blind and naked." That's you and me.
    God's Word is a single voice "crying in the wilderness."

    • Hi Thomas

      Thank you very much for your comment.
      However, I would kindly ask you to explain the last paragraph in your comment. English is not my native language so I could follow your argument up to that last bit. I am really not sure what is the idea behind that last part of the text. It seems that you have something to say but as I said, my poor language skills do not allow me to get the right meaning.

      Many thanks for your time.

      • Goran,
        Thank you for asking, even reminding me, about the last paragraph. I had in mind to at least reference Revelation 3:14-22. To do justice to God's Word, and not to my "argument", I will quote God's full message to Laodicea:

        "14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write ; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest , I am rich, and increased with goods , and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich ; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed , and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear ; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see . 19 As many as I love , I rebuke and chasten : be zealous therefore, and repent . 20 Behold , I stand at the door, and knock : if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame , and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

        Bear with me to emphasize, as I am impressed, what God says:
        1. Remember that we accept that Laodicea is the last day Church, inclusive of the SDA Church. God says that the SDA Church "sayest", or "thinketh in his heart" and vocalizes, that we are "rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing".
        2. God says the SDA Church does not "know" that we are "miserable, poor, blind and naked" [a Biblical repeat - so blind that we are unaware of our own condition].
        Interestingly, this statement puts both an affirmation as well as a contradiction to William's theme: 'I am the rich'.
        3. God offers to sell to the SDA Church purified "gold" ("agape" love, instead of spiritual poverty), "white clothing" (righteousness, instead of pretense and hypocrisy), "eye salve" (Holy Spirit insights, instead of worldly cultural and media driven eye destructive medication/drugs). [text redacted]
        4. God assures the SDA Church: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten... Behold I stand at the door and knock." He, with respect and love, is asking for our permission to open our hearts to listen to HIS message (not that of the media or the culture. We really don't "know" how much we really need this message as a Church. Interestingly, some of what I write, particularly those exposing contradiction to the Scriptures, I already knew that SSNET moderators will not publish)
        5. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Biblical repeat: This is God's call for us to listen to HIM.

        As Seventh-day Adventists, God is asking for our hearts, eyes, ears, mouths and thinking (the whole head) in this message. Personally, I believe that [redacted] this is an excellent reminder of God's message to Laodicea, that we of the SDA Church should listen to HIM. As an SDA Christian, I am taking this reminder to heart: that I listen to YAHWEH, not human meanderings around God's Word.

        Thanks Goran for asking. Reminds me to ask the Holy Spirit to use me to lift up HIS WORD, JESUS CHRIST, alone.

  8. In fact what we need is a good will for others to be where we are not to downtrodden them or feel more blessed than them.

    • Richard, thank you for reminding us that what really matters is that we have a heart filled with the love of Jesus. That will prevent us from feeling superior to others, and it will help us to really understand their needs.

      Every human being needs dignity. And one of the points made in the post was that unwise giving can rob the recipients of dignity. Jesus Christ was ever mindful of the dignity of every human being. He connected with them on a personal level so that they knew He cared for them. And, whenever we can, we need to do the same.

      Of course, we can't always connect personally, and we must necessarily trust the agencies to which we give - that they will make the personal connection. In that case, we can be assured that God sees every penny that is given from a loving heart, and He blesses it - just as He saw and blessed the widow's mite.

  9. There have been numerous applications and explanations of James 5:1. Many of them are maybe not specifically what James had in mind but they are thoughtfully sincere. The word rich in the KJV is taken from a Greek root that is literally, money. Luke 6:24 uses the same word and Jesus said, Woe to you who are rich you have your reward. In other words you have used every means possible to obtain your wealth and there is nothing better beyond what you have accomplished. That is what is meant by the love of money. That is why James said weep(sob) and howl (shriek). Not that it was something that they needed to be told to do. It is the similar reaction as that in Matt.13:42,50. Matt 24:51 Luke 13:28. There is nothing more devastating than to be the recipient in those verses. If that doesn't present a need to plea for Gods mercy, and a closer relationship with Him, I can't imagine what would. How thankful that we worship a God that has more Love and Grace than ALL our sins. He is more than willing to help us make good choices.

  10. Ashton,
    Giving junk to persons who are deprived is not a gift. It is hypocrisy in pretending to be giving, and dishonesty in claiming an IRS charitable contribution when that junk should go to the garbage pile. It is "blind" to call that a gift. Who pays shipping to Africa for computers that should be junked? Seventh-day Adventists should represent God in giving the best, the very best. "Preferring others above yourselves" (Romans and Philippians); just like Jesus Christ gave His best to save us (Phil 2:1 ff).

    Good point in pointing out that our right hand does not know what our left hand is doing; but the world is invited to give praises to our faces, appropriately called a "selfie" (selfish giving?). Can we do anything charitable in the name of Jesus Christ with anonymity? On the other hand, could we claim the messages of God through Ellen White on health, righteousness, obedience to the Word of God, last day events with boldness and confidence? We likely never would compete with Oprah in giving; but alternatively, we can make a stand for Jesus Christ as Savior and God in giving the messages of EGW, faithfully lifting up God's Word, to the world.

    • Hurford, you appear to write from a US perspective, but the incidents which Maurice mentions did not happen in the USA, nor where the items sent from the USA. So there was no "shipping to Africa" involved. And I'm sure the motives were laudable. The computers were working and they were helpful to the recipients as long as they were working. (By the way, I'm working on a computer right now that's more than five years old!) It was just a bit short-sighted to not realize that the recipients didn't have the necessary expertise to keep them running. This sort of thing can happen in any part of the world where one area is a bit richer than another - whether that be in the South Pacific, Asia, Africa, South America, or North America.

      Is it possible that you missed the point of the Maurice's article, not to mention Heather Ruiz's article?

      As I see it, the point was about giving more, not less - that is giving more of ourselves by getting to know the people and giving both time and material things more appropriate to their needs. Heather's article was an indictment of popular "volunteerism" - that is making "volunteer" work a part of tourism. It is quite possible, of course, that it is not all negative in all instances.

      I believe both articles were meant to challenge us to be more thoughtful and committed in giving - not to give less.

      • Inge, it seems that the point I made about giving from our best, "preferring others above ourselves", as Jesus did (Phil 1 - 2:13), dropped without reaching the eardrums. "Shipping to Africa" was just a symbolism of spending to send sub-par.

        You might consider the possibility of offering information to educate Africans that computers use the internet where they can find information about fixing computers; along with providing the money to carry out the fixing.

  11. The rich who are rich towards God consider the salvation of their fellow men of more importance than silver and gold. It is a matter of priorities that keeps us in the service of God. I do believe that condemnation of our conference brethren is going down the wrong path. We need now more than ever to stand behind our conference brethren, whether rich or poor. The classic example of not standing behind our brethren is some of the independent ministries who garner millions that should go to help the conference be involved in helping locals and over seas ministries. A solution for both to coexist would be for the independent ministries to pay 10% tithe and 10% conference support, out of the money they take in, allowing the conference brethren to continue to serve.

    • One of the aims of my original article was to raise the issue of "thoughtful giving". In other words of ensuring that our gifts are effective, and not just providing us with a good feeling about doing something for the needy. When we give to the church or church agencies, it is our business to ensure that our gifts are used wisely and appropriately. ADRA has a strong track record for providing programs that enable the poor. However, like all welfare organisations, they must to be held accountable, and its programs should be reviewed to ensure they are effective.

      Likewise, I think too that we need to be careful that we do not condemn all independent ministries. I am aware of a couple of really good independent ministries, that are focused on providing education, and vocational skills. Importantly they are using local teachers rather than expatriates. Such organisations can often work in areas where regular church agencies cannot. As with all giving, it is best to do our homework and check that our donations are used effectively.

    • John, the issue of independent ministries is not a simple one. For instance, do you enjoy SSNet? We are an independent ministry! Up until a couple of months ago Inge and her husband were shouldering all the expenses of this ministry but it has become more than they can handle so now they have become a Amazon associate and asking for everyone to buy Amazon products through a link on SSNet. In that way they hope to cover the expenses of SSNet with the small percentage they receive from it.

      To me the larger question is why the independent ministries happened in the first place which as you mentioned draws off a significant amount of support for the church. Again this is not easy to answer but I do think a lot of it has to do with people's perception of the integrity of those placed in leadership positions.

      When sin is found in great supply among church leaders it certainly doesn't help the situation one bit. I don't think we should expect our leaders to be perfect but when very bad corporate decisions are made then that sets the stage for such things as independent ministries where they are perceived as being more in line with God's will than the church leadership is.

      Likewise, Jesus also became very concerned with the leadership of His day in many of the statements He made concerning the condition of those people who were supposed to be the shepherds of the flock. The simple fact is that those greedy individuals in positions of trust were doing a lot of damage to God's church and ended up repulsing large numbers of people from the fellowship and the love of God. I believe that in some instances the situation hasn't improved much over the centuries. Integrity will always be a big issue and those in leadership roles will always have far more accountability than those without the influence leadership holds.

      • Tyler, thanks for the heads up information. I had no idea what was involved and needed to operate SSNet. I also would also extend a note of thanks to Inge and her husband for the all the effort given to make it happen. Jesus had more than 12 disciples and surely God uses independent ministries as well as church sponsored, to accomplish his purposes.

      • Thomas,
        I agree with you that we should give as we feel the NEED TO HELP according to our ASSESSMENT OF THE CONDITION of the recipient. Simplicita. And the catch is our assessment of the needs of the recipient. When we give, do we really mean to respond to a felt need that will practically solve the hardship facing the recipient? If the answer is 'yes', that is religion undefiled, faith in action. Anything beyond that is selfish and a mockery. The example cited elsewhere of used computers sent to mission schools (most likely in Africa)is a typical way of disposing of junk goods!

        But I have difficulty with your analysis of the paralytic's reaction after his healing. Are you sure the paralytic was that ungrateful and a traitor as well? I believe he genuinely desired to advertise Jesus!, the consequence of which action he could never foresee! Poor paralytic! Physically healed and spiritually pardoned and restored, who would be more grateful than he was?

        Showing the leaders the person who had healed him has a parallel in the story of the man born blind. Who can hide the joy and exhilaration! Only a thankful heart will share the wonderful beneficence of the Savior. That the leaders used it to accuse Jesus has nothing to do with the narration of the story to them.

        Going to "report" to the leaders was only a natural thing to do. Here was a poor sick person in a Jewish society. Who was he not to answer the leaders a question he could provide no answer to previously because he really did not know? Now armed with the knowledge that Jesus had made him whole, he 'dutifully' provides them the answer they needed.

        Mind you, in this instance Jesus had not - unlike the blind man who had been expressly warned not to disclose it to anybody! - cautioned him not to tell anyone.

        In any case, assuming he was an ungrateful, unrepentant sinner who had betrayed Jesus - after all the Savior had done for him! - Jesus would and should have gone ahead to heal him, all the same. Christ deserves our gratitude; but He does not need it.

        Now, here is the crux of the matter. Should Jesus have left the man in that state when He had the power to help him, because if He had assessed the man He would have concluded that he (the sick man) would not appreciate the gift of healing and forgiveness?

        Those who want to be appreciated before better leave it. It does not belong in the realm of Christian charity! And those who advertise their donations have already received their reward. And there are those who use their donations to claim tax rebate!

        May the Lord guide us to give as we really should.

      • Tyler,
        [This is in parenthesis because it's a rather personal question: How is your last name pronounced? If you cannot provide the phonetic notation, please give a familiar English word close to that sound.]

        I have relied on the SSNET for close to four years now. And I must admit that it has made my Sabbath school studies a lot easier and more convenient, what with the interactive facility via the reftagg app. But honestly, I have not bothered to find out who operates it even though I understand that it is independent of the Sabbath School Council of The General Conference.

        It is so refreshing to learn that an individual couple has taken this bold step. May the good Lord who knows every heart richly reward them; and not only reward but also facilitate this amazing (no pun here with Amazon!)project. I can only, for now, direct friends to do their shopping on Amazon so that more may be added to the share enjoyed by SSNET.
        At the appropriate time, I will make my own personal contribution to advance the gospel work.
        Once again, more grease to their elbows.

        • Christopher, there are benefits in having a name that people have a hard time pronouncing correctly and because they do I have accepted that as being the way things are. So I prefer to just leave it that way but thanks for the inquiry anyway.

          As for the business with Amazon it is important to note that SSNet will not get any benefit unless Amazon is accessed through the link on this site. That is the only way that Amazon knows that SSNet should get the credit for the order and therefore receive some profit from the sale.

      • I would point out that regardless of the wrongs that might exist in the leadership of the Church, self-supporting ministries are encouraged. Paul was such himself, as was Jesus and the disciples. The Church should not be called upon to give support to every effort, but those serving independently should look to God for their support. God can and does bless where it is needed, and where those serving step out in faith and give all they have, God will do the rest, but we must expect that often our efforts will be hedged up for lack of sufficient aid. Yet this is how God often leads, which requires increased faith and utter dependence on Him. We need the experience of walking and working by faith if we would be fit to stand in the great trial that will soon touch every living soul.

        • Robert,
          There is valid criticism about how we spend God's money on ourselves, individual or organizational. God forgives.
          It is true that there are godly leaders who are true to integrity in their work as spiritual leaders. God affirms.
          The larger question is: How do we account for the dilemma that just about every church organization from local church to all levels of our institutions seem never to have enough, and therefore not any to give?
          Is it true that when we give from what we receive, then the energy of God's plan flows with increasing capacity to our homes?
          Is it a principle in nature (electrical, social, etc)that when we just spend on ourselves, there is little or no return line to the power station/Divine Resource, and hence a weakening or killing of the power flow to where we are located?
          I raised the question as to whether the chronic inadequacy is related to chronic "withholding more than", as to whether my local church or conference is not generous in giving, and therefore always lack.
          My raising this issue is not about criticizing bad leadership, or praising good leadership. Good or bad leadership, the issue does not change. Why? What, specifically, is it that does not change?
          It is my concern that the principles of Scripture, also vocalized by EGW in several instructions, and evident in nature are not followed.
          Give and shall be given
          I was hungry but you did not feed me
          Come ye blessed of my Father
          Ye receive not because
          If you ask my Father, in my name He will

          The Rich Young Ruler walked away sorrowful, and lost. He loved his possessions, and his religion which he generously supported, but could not give a loaf of bread to a hungry widow to feed her children. Lost. He thought he kept all the commandments, even as he gave generously to the Temple. The Temple received and kept it stored, cankered (till the Romans....). Lost

          Isa 58: You seek my face; you worship me, praise me; you claim my promises; you seek my advise; you speak of justice and righteousness; you fast regularly. You are great SDAs and Great SDA Conferences.
          But who says that is the religion that I, Yahweh, asked you for? Is it?
          Is it not to -
          Feed the hungry
          Clothe the naked
          Visit the orphans and widows
          Provide a home for the homeless
          (no limitations or assessments to justify yourselves)
          (no playing judge of people hearts to determine their need)
          (no re-directing Jesus Christ to die for only the good hearted)
          Is not this the SDA Church that I have chosen?
          I AM asking for a religion that loves, values and care for my children.

          Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit, for when .............

    • John, May I first respond to the issue of "independent ministries". Are you including the Voice of Prophecy and 3ABN or just independent churches? I know some of the latter, and they are not as wealthy "millions" that could help the conference. Actually they are not SDA Churches as far as the SDA Church is concerned. You might already know that several years ago the North American Division made a radical turn around in attitude to independent ministries, from no recognition or support for inclusiveness to a list of requirements in order to use the name "Seventh-day Adventist".

      On the first issue, it is not a condemnation of the Conferences. It is a recognition that while we preach to the members the necessity and the rewards of giving, when the money gets to the Conferences, the Unions, Divisions and General Conference,it falls into a pocket with holes. They never have enough to take care of their expenses, and so have to keep prodding the membership directly or indirectly down the line. Jesus gives the reason why.

      When Jesus sent a message through Isaiah, then gives it with His own voice, is he only speaking to the individual member, or is He also speaking to the whole body/the elected Leadership of the body? Do the principles that apply to the individual also apply to the community of believers/our leaders. Specifically, when EGW in DA, Chapter 1 identifies receiving to give as the "Law of the Universe" and observes that everything in nature receives to give, the only exception being the selfish heart of man, is she speaking only to individual members or to all the church and its leaders? My impression is that GOD/JESUS CHRIST expected integrity in giving from the Leaders of Israel just as from individuals. I am suggesting that there is a system problem, no matter who the leaders are. I quoted the response of a very sincere and devoted Christian SDA Conference President. He said to me, "it is very difficult, especially when you have to answer to the people above you". He finally said: "I will see if I can get it done." Promises are just as good for the body as it is for the individual. The barrel of oil is God's miracle, not mathematics.

      • I think that you raise an important issue here on the issue of institutional expectations. Sometimes we as individuals hide behind the institution to avoid being involved ourselves. The intention of my original article was to raise the bar on our understanding of ourselves and our attitudes about our wealth and our relationship to others. However we often use a variety of mechanisms to isolate ourselves from the problem. We can for example make a donation to ADRA but be unwilling to spend a bit of time with a neighbor who is struggling. Giving money or objects is easy. Being involved with people at the coalface of need is much more difficult.

        In saying that we need to recognize that institutions can do things that individuals cannot do. for instance, getting disaster relief into an earthquake zone is a huge logistical task and needs institutional resources to accomplish it.

        We need both the institutional and personal involvement in sharing our wealth (remember I am not talking just about money).

    • John, I like your suggestion of the wealthy independent ministries contributing a tithe plus 10% to the conferences in which their headquarters are located. Maybe you should make that suggestion to the appropriate directors. (Surely it can't hurt. And we all know that there are several large, independent ministries with a huge following, including many people who send their tithes to them.)

      In the meantime, we all need to recognize the importance of putting both our tithes and offerings in the Lord's designated storehouse - that is the treasury of what we understand to be the stewards of God's last-day truth on this planet.

      Once we have done that, we are free to give to whatever cause we deem to be most clearly doing the work of the Lord.

  12. I really appreciate your deep thoughts. Actually it is not always the money that gives the satisfaction. It is about being happy,it is about feel friendly and comfortable.

    • Victor, if I hear you correctly, you are saying that often it is means more to people to feel respected and loved than to be handed some money.

      How true it is!

      And that brings us back to an important point of the original article - that we need to respect those to whom we give and find out what their real needs are. They may not be what we think.

      • Many different opinions about giving, and most have biblical support. I have said many times that the reason,the motive that we do what ever it is, makes the difference. Not necessarily what we see, but what is in the mind of the individual that is giving. I think of the Widows two mites. That is a classical example that Jesus used. One thing that was mentioned in Heathers comments as well as something that Ing also commented on, was labeled "Volunteer Tourism". That has been a question in my mind more than once, when we help subsidize a young person to go to a "mission field" to build a structure or what ever the perceived need is. Is the motive what it is thought to be. Is the opportunity to help someone in need the main purpose or? Of course not being judgmental on my part is a problem that has to be considered also. I think that if a need is met by a method that God chooses we can not criticize from our limited view. I also agree that all organizations should be held to a standard of accountability.


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