With Christmas 2010 now consigned the realm of “memories,” and with most people feeling “tapped out” when it comes to giving, it’s time to think of another aspect of giving; the donations we make in the area we generally refer to as “tithes and offerings.”
Oh no! Not that topic!
Being self employed and in retail means Christmas isn’t a lot of fun. We are about to put the last of our supplier payments in the mail. If there wasn’t going to be any further December activity and the amounts were low, we’re paying all the current invoices as well. We don’t pay ourselves a salary, so just getting bills paid is a major goal.
So this is a good time to start thinking about our personal finances, and in particular, our charitable donations. Not knowing exactly what our income is going to be makes it harder to figure out what we should be giving, but I don’t know anybody who, at tax time in April, looks at their receipts and says, “I should have given less.“
Giving shouldn’t be done in December just to get a receipt. We give because we’ve been blessed, and because God commands it. But December is a good time to take stock of our personal finances and see what we can do to help others
So who can we bless this year? Here’s some suggestions:
- Our first responsibility is to our local church, the place we call our spiritual home, where we receive teaching, prayer support and fellowship.
- If there’s a “second” on the list, for many this year it is giving to relief and development in the third world, especially projects which are bringing fresh water wells to areas that don’t have potable water.
- Has there been a natural disaster somewhere in the world this year that you watched on television but didn’t actually respond to? Find out if your denomination or churches in your area know of people who are actually “on the ground” working alongside people in devastated areas.
- Locally, who is actually doing ministry where you live? There are always examples of people doing really exemplary work among people in need; people in prison; people dealing with addictions. Find out what these people need and what avenues of support exist to help financially.
- Is there someone in your area who does student ministry who is lacking in financial support? Consider urban missionaries and youth workers with Youth For Christ, Campus Crusade, InterVarsity and YWAM.
- What about camp ministries? Is there a Christian summer residential camp that is in need of funds for capital projects or to sponsor children in the summer?
- What about your local Christian school? Do they need money for capital projects; are they operating at a deficit?
- Do you have a local Christian radio station? This isn’t limited to the “preacher programs,” the stations themselves often need additional support to pay staff and overhead.
- Who is working with the poor in your community? Who provides meals, or transportation or moral support to people who are disadvantaged economically?
- The very fact you’re reading a Christian blog means that means you love the written word. Consider those who are putting the scriptures in the hands of people who don’t have them, such as Wycliffe Bible Translators or the various Bible Societies.
- And speaking of Bibles, this book is illegal in more than 50 countries. Consider helping organizations that work with the persecuted church around the world.
- You first considered your local church. Is there another church in your community that is doing good but struggling financially? This year we heard a story of one church putting another local church on their missions budget with a sizable donation. We’re all playing on the same team, and what a wonderful witness this is to those who think we’re competing.
Also, there may be a family in your community, or in your extended family, or someone you work with who cannot provide you with a tax receipt but needs a blessing this Christmas. Consider also directly donating to someone who is in need.
‘…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ~ Matthew 25:40