i’ve been reading this book called toxic charity and its rocking my world a bit. it argues the stunning statement that “giving to those in need what they could be gaining from their own initiative may well be the kindest way to destroy people.” now the book is not arguing that we should not give at all but rather that we should be mindful of how to give for the best effect.
then how ought we to give? i don’t know all the answers…i’m still reading…still learning. but one principle i am seeing played out in my experience is that giving can only go so far. giving with relationships can go much farther.
Jesus did not only give his life for our sins, he walked among us to show us how we can give live life in God. He gave to many but he invested in a few to ensure that they should do as He did for them. i am learning that mentoring as well as any service to those in need, as lupton illustrates, is not so much “doing for” but “doing with.” if it stays in “doing for” the people whom we love and serve will not grow. but if as we move to “doing with” people in need there is a deeper shared joy and they are empowered to pass it on. in mentoring, although its slow going, being present with my mentees as they themselves interact with Jesus, is so much richer than when i simply share about my interaction with Jesus.
there is a family at my church that amazes me with their generosity even though they have so much less resources than I do. they really love our community and our neighbors not just by dropping off food but with their warmth and their joy in Jesus. this week the mother and father of the family got baptized. they shared their testimony and I got to find out how they became so wholly generous. another couple of our church lived right by them and loved, prayed, and invited them to the church body. they gave away their van to this family in need, but more importantly they gave their friendship. This kind of generosity with relationship has reproduced not a “taker” family but an exemplary giving family.
the bible teaches us the value of giving, especially in seasons like the one we are heading into of rampant consumerism. however, how we give matters. let us love enough to consider not just our joy but how that joy can sustainably be multiplied in others.