The Rev. David Rivers, senior pastor, First Christian Church, 1000 Ky.:
Many years ago I received a phone call from a charitable organization soliciting funds. The sales pitch went something like this: “If you send us $100, we’ll pray that God blesses you ten-fold. And because we have faith that God blesses a cheerful giver, this prayer will be answered!”
My response was knee-jerk and went something like this: “How about you send me the $100 and I’ll pray for you that same prayer and believe God will answer it.”
He hung up.
This experience taught me that there are some who believe God values one act over another. Yet what is to reason for charity? For some, it is a sense of feeling good about oneself as they help another. For others, they deem charity an important part of living a grateful life. And yet others, their charitable actions are rooted in their belief in God’s call to us to love our neighbor.
And it is out of our great commandment — to love God with all we are and to love others as one’s self — that we find the basis to live charitable lives. The motivation comes not from the basis of what one will receive; rather, the motivation grows out of a responsibility to ensure our neighbor is well cared for — whether the issues are of hunger, housing, emotional health, attainable health care, education, etc.
The hope I have is that through our actions and wise use of resources, we are able to help our neighbor be blessed by that which God has entrusted to us. And even deeper still is the conviction that God values all of our expressions of charity which helps to create the kind of world that God envisioned — a world where we care for one another and experience contentment in our relationship with God.
— Send email to David Rivers at email@example.com.
The Rev. Mary Newberg Gale, associate pastor, First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway:
From the beginning of scripture God calls God’s people to care for each other. Proverbs 31 tell us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” The prophet Isaiah encourages us to “seek justice and to defend the cause of those without.”
Such action is among the highest priorities of a community. Jesus himself sums up all the law and the prophets in two deceptively simple commands: Love God and love your neighbor. We’ve spent centuries continually discovering just how hard that is.
God does not have a hierarchy, does not rate one kind of charitable action over others. That being said, God puts a premium on getting our hands dirty. The call to care for the widows and the orphans, for the least and lost in our midst, is not one about acceptable distance. It is not antiseptic giving.
Jesus modeled ministry and outreach in the midst of people who were suffering. As we follow that model, it means God calls us to more than writing checks for our favorite charity. It means collecting clothing for the Salvation Army store; it means preparing and serving meals for Lawrence Community Shelter or for Family Promise. It means fighting for the people who have no voice. When we begin to think about charitable actions it is imperative we remember that God’s call on our lives includes the three T’s — our time, our talent and our treasure.
— Send email to Mary Newberg Gale at firstname.lastname@example.org.