The Joy of Giving
LAYING IT ON THE ALTAR
There is a common story in situation comedies. Susan finds out her friend Janet has run into tough times financially. Janet is not going to be able to pay all of the bills that are coming due. It is clearly a very stressful thing for her. Susan, because she cares about Janet and doesn’t like seeing her in such a tough situation, offers to give, or loan, Janet some money to get her out of the situation. The scene usually plays out something like this.
SUSAN: Janet, can I ask you something?
SUSAN: Is everything OK?
JANET: What do you mean?
SUSAN: I couldn’t help but notice you’re being extra frugal lately.
JANET: (Feeling a little uncomfortable) Umm, …what are you saying?
SUSAN: I’m just wondering if you are having money problems.
JANET: (A little defensive) I’m fine.
JANET: I’m fine. Why would you even say that?
SUSAN: Well, I didn’t want to bring this up, but I saw you squeezing ketchup packets into hot water and calling it soup.
SUSAN: So, I’m just saying if you need anything I’m here for you.
JANET: Thanks, but I’m fine.
SUSAN: OK. I’m just saying…
JANET (Interrupting) I’m broke! OK. There, I said it. I’m broke.
Then Susan offers to give Janet money to tide her over. Janet refuses, but eventually agrees to accept it if they can call it a loan. The next day a mutual friend informs Susan that she saw Janet coming out of a very expensive spa.
SUSAN: Hmmm, that’s interesting.
FRIEND: Why is that interesting?
SUSAN: Because this morning I saw her with shopping bags from Bloomingdale’s.
Susan decides, against the advice of the mutual friend, that she will have a talk with Janet.
ACT II – Hilarity ensues.
What makes this situation work in any sitcom is the fact that Susan feels that because she has loaned, or perhaps given Janet money, she has the right to decide what Janet should do with that money.
MAKING AN OFFERING
When we lay a sacrifice on the alter, we must then walk away. Once that sacrifice has left our hands, we have no say in what will be done with that offering. If we attach strings to any offering, it is not a true sacrifice. If you tithe to your church, you do so because you want to do something good, not because you want to control what that church does with your offering. You make a good faith offering and then walk away.
How many times have you heard, or even said yourself, that you should not give money to people on the street? Common statements are;
“He’ll probably just buy booze with it.” Or,
“He probably makes more money per year than you do.” Or,
“He won’t be grateful for it.”
Maybe he will buy booze. Maybe he won’t be grateful. What if we each had only those things we are grateful for? We would each be in a pretty bad way.
There is a joy that comes from sacrifice. Whether that sacrifice be a financial donation, or an offering of your time, it can give one a sense of peace. When we question our donation, or second-guess those who are receiving it, we rob ourselves of that joy.
Next time you feel like giving money to someone on the street, do it without questioning his intent. Say to yourself, “Whatever he does with that money, I hope it makes him happy. And if it makes him happy, then I’m happy for him.”
“The Coat” (Source: The Mormon Channel)