There are many natural disasters, and just now thousands of people are suffering badly from the effects of an earthquake and a tsunami in Indonesia. When there is a disaster on this scale, and a foreign government appeals for outside help, the UK Disasters Emergency Committee sets up a nationwide appeal for aid. They ask for money to pay for food, water, medicines and equipment. All of this has to be transported across oceans, and it requires coordinated logistics for things to flow rapidly from donors to those in need.
People in the UK are well-known for their generous giving when it comes to situations such a this one on the island of Sulawesi. There are thousands missing feared dead, buried beneath mud slides or crushed under collapsed buildings. Survivors desperately need shelter from the elements, and they will be wanting massive help for getting them back on their feet. New infrastructure, housing and public amenities will have to be built. The task is enormous, and it will take years.
If you’ve ever given to relief-aid charities you’ll know they like to keep hold of your details so that they can come back to ask for more. Whenever another disaster occurs you can be sure they’ll send you a letter or make contact via email with a request for help. So, as a Christian, how do you respond? Indeed, do you respond more generously than those who do not know the Lord? What is the proportion of Christians who give to *DEC Org? There’s no way of knowing.
I would like to think their ranking is high, but in the end, although the Lord supplies their needs, some may not be able to respond as they would like. They could well be committed elsewhere. However, they most certainly will respond with prayer. I’m reminded of the passage in Mark’s Gospel where Mark describes an episode when Jesus was at the treasury in Jerusalem:
‘Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrant. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood (Mark 12:41-44).”’
This illustrates the importance Jesus places on generosity. The widow gave ‘all’ she had! How remarkable was that. How precious it was in the sight of our Lord!
The Scriptures have more for us to draw on regarding giving. For example, in the case of tithing, a Christian is not required to do it. The Israelites under the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 14:22-29) were obliged to give one tenth or more of their income. A number of Christians tithe, for it comes from their hearts to do so. Heart giving is beautiful. The Lord loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). I am thinking, ‘If only I had a bigger heart and a bigger purse!’ We may feel guilty or inadequate when we look back on our giving, and our conscience may prick us when we consider our present giving.
However, Jesus doesn’t ‘always’ want us to give sacrificially. A cup of water can be valued a lot by one who is thirsty (Matthew 10:42; Mark 9:41). Our motivation and the state of our heart is what counts, and there’s pleasure in satisfying the needs of the needy. No one can evade the eye of the Lord; for He sees everything we do. He knows of everything we do, and strangely, He has preordained all things; including our giving (Ephesians 2:10).
Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you (Luke 6:38).”
Finally, Jesus gave His all: ‘“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).”’