This is a guest post written by Holly Whitman. Holly is a freelance writer and journalist, originally from the UK but now based in Washington DC. You can find her on Twitter at @hollykwhitman and more of her writing on her blog, Only Slightly Biased. To submit a guest post, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Giving is at the core of who we are as Christians. Of course, prayer and involvement in the church community are critically important, but philanthropy allows those beliefs to have a positive impact on the world around us.
Sacred Scripture is filled with reminders and urges to be charitable. It includes the call to give of the first fruits of our harvest, the parable of the poor widow who donated more than the rich men around her, and the reminder that God loves a cheerful giver.
Perhaps the most well-known call to charity comes from Matthew 25:37–40,
Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
So there is no doubt that as Christians, we have a special vocation to be generous with our time, our talents and our money. But often, we give to the collection plate at church and think we have fulfilled our Christian duty. Not so! Let’s explore why you should support charitable organizations outside of your church.
Thanks to social media and a globalized society, we are able to hear stories of those in need from across the globe. The persecution of Christians and other religious groups, children in need of food and clean water as well as victims of natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis inspire us to donate to causes around the world. Potential international giving partners include Charity Water, Pencils of Promise, and Catholic Relief Services.
Think beyond the chequebook
If your family budget doesn’t have room for more charitable giving, or if you are looking for a way to grow closer to family or coworkers while improving your community, consider volunteering your time instead of (or in addition to) your dollars.
Volunteering improves workplace morale and inspires self-reflection. Simply put, volunteers can often come away more changed and blessed than those they serve.
Local charities and events
In day-to-day life, we often hear of worthy causes. Make it your mission to take note of these organizations or needs and follow through with generosity.
If a coworker mentions that their special needs child has benefited from a local therapy program, donate a lesson for another child in need. If you lend a book to a new mom who is struggling, donate a copy of that book to your local library so others can access it as well. There are opportunities to bless those in your local community every day — you just have to be on the lookout.
Remember a couple of years ago, when you couldn’t log on to social media without seeing video of a friend or celebrity dousing themselves with ice water? The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is an example of online giving gone viral.
You may also receive requests to give to friends participating in 5Ks, fun runs or other fundraisers that provide easy online giving mechanisms. This is a great way to learn about new causes and the wide net cast by these campaigns means even a small donation can make a difference.
Supporting your church home is important. Practically speaking, the electric bill needs to be paid, and your church also provides support to people and families in need, education to children and other important causes. But giving generously means donating both your time and money beyond church as well. Remember, whatever you do for your brothers and sisters in need, you do for Him, too.