I was watching Bill Maher’s Religulous recently, and one part of the documentary that stood out to me was when a televangelist was telling his television audience that he knew people on welfare who had committed to give his ministry $1,000, and they were paying it!
I would really like to believe that. Wouldn’t it be reassuring to believe that God takes care of people, especially when they give to others? And maybe there are stories about that taking place—-about God being with people and providing for them when they are faithful in giving their tithes and offerings. I one time had dinner with a Seventh-Day Adventist couple, and they said that there were times when they looked at the books and did not think that they could afford to tithe. But they tithed anyway, and they still got through.
But then I’ve heard other stories. I know one person whose family ate popcorn rather than decent and wholesome food because he was giving a lot of money to his church. And he made good money!
Regarding the people on welfare whom that televangelist mentioned, maybe they were giving to his ministry $1,000, but was it at a cost? Did they have to forgo meals for themselves or their children in order to give that donation? Or did they have to give up other necessities? Or, alternatively, did God sustain them and provide for them during that time?
Then there’s the question of whether a church or ministry even deserves someone’s donation. I don’t know enough about that televangelist to comment one way or the other, but I know of some churches and ministries in which the leadership got rich off of the donations of hardworking people and those who were on a fixed income.
At the same time, I don’t want to be hard-hearted towards those who truly need help, to just provide for me and my own while withholding money from those who may be going hungry, or who are struggling to get off their feet (which is not to say that I give substantial amounts to charity). Does God provide for us when we give? I hope that, on some level, he does. Granted, what’s important is that we give, whether God rewards us or not. But it’s hard to give when we ourselves are lacking and are struggling to stretch the little money that we have. II Corinthians 9:8 states: “And God [is] able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all [things], may abound to every good work” (KJV), and some interpret that to mean that God will always provide us with something to give. Is that how real life works, though?