Christians are givers. In fact, they are called to be godly in giving.
When it comes to financial giving, Christians are called to be different to the world around them. The world promises anything that money can buy, but God calls upon the Christian to give generously.
The battle, although played out before our eyes every day, is really a battle played out in our hearts and minds. Each day, all week, we get hit by an avalanche of advertising informing us of the best, newest, most economical, trendy, affordable, and necessary product or service available. Be it dining, travel, technology, fashion, real estate, entertainment, motoring or home furnishing. There is a lot competing for our dollar – thank goodness we have jobs to afford all these necessary things!
It is likely, that people today read more of a shopping catalogue then they do of any other written material available! And if that is the case, then spare a thought for what that must do to our thinking as a society.
Don’t get me wrong, shopping catalogues do have a place – they tell us what is on the market, what it costs, and if it is any good. I am not someone who is totally against a world of material things – in fact, especially on Father’s Day, I am very thankful for some of the material things available to us!
Yet, as a society, we have a blind spot. It may not be that we just want to own things or own more stuff, but rather that our consumerism is driven more by a desire to be changed by our ownership of the stuff. Let me explain.
The goal of advertising is to appeal to a person’s desire. If the advertiser can convince you that your life will be better off with the said product or service, then they have done their job. Successful advertising suggests to the viewer that if they have the product or service, then the buyer inherits some of their traits!
Look at product advertising. If you own that new phone, then you will be more efficient or slick or fast. If you are wearing that dress, or shoe, or handbag (as is that celebrity), then you will be more elegant or trendy or young. If you read that book, then you will be more intelligent or informed or up-to-date. If you drove that car, then you will be more professional or adventurous or advanced or stylish.
And look at food and restaurant advertising. Is it really about food? Most food ads sell the idea that we could become like the food or restaurant on offer – relaxed, dignified, alternative, simple, healthy, quick, sweet, slimming or whatever the particular quality that the target person wants to be.
Or travel advertising, it’s not just about the destination. It is about becoming calm, exotic, reflective, pampered, cultured and experienced as a world traveller.
Or my favourite, real estate advertising. Buy this house or this property, in this particular area, near this particular school, with access to these neighbourhoods or shops or facilities and you will be seen to be affluent, successful or able.
As a society we are driven to buy, because our ownership of things in some way changes us to be more like those things – or so we think!
The purchase of those things in no way grants us a more secure hold on the desired state that we seek, but it might inspire in us a feeling that we are on the way to a better place and so it helps us work harder to buy more of those things because surely one day we might reach that nirvana of our imagination.
The reason why the topic of godly giving needs to be considered by the Christian person is because the Bible has a lot to say about giving and what it says about giving is very different to what our world promotes.
For other articles in this series:
Generous in Giving
Christians are givers!
Godly in Giving
How does a Christian Organise their Godly Giving?