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Some give freely and grow richer. Others are cautious, yet grow poorer. Be generous and you will prosper. Help others and you will be helped. Proverbs 11:24-25

We find churchies on the whole to be miserly about giving. They have 101 excuses for not giving to any cause. Some give only after condemning the recipient for asking.

This same stinginess can be reflected in gifts between friends. Some only share things that are of no use to themselves anyway, and then it's usually 'loaned' on the understanding that in years to come it must be returned to the giver.

Even if a gift is not meant to be a loan, it is considered an insult to the one who gave it, to sell, exchange, or even give it away if and when it is not needed.

A cash gift often includes instructions on how it is to be spent (sometimes in the form of vouchers that can only be spent at certain stores).

In each case, the 'gift' is being used as a tool to control or manipulate the recipient.

Independent religious workers (like ourselves) survive on the generosity of others. You would think that we would be experts at giving. Yet we often are the most self-centered of all. It is easy to become accustomed to thinking that the whole world is out there to support us, and that all giving must flow only in our direction. Such a self-centered vision is counter-productive.

We've noticed that missionary churches are always growing churches. Because they send some of their best members away to mission fields, more new members come to fill the vacuum. The same should be done with finances. Giving only to our own organisation replaces personal greed with corporate greed. We must give it away to keep the flow going.

We don't need to find an organisation that is more worthy than us. Christ commended the widow who gave her last few cents to greedy graspers (Luke 20:46-21:4). He said to give to anyone who asks, including your enemies. He's not concerned about their greed so much as he is concerned about our greed. (Luke 6:38, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7)

Beware lest the strings you attach to your gifts become the strings that strangle your soul!

(See also The Donor.)

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