In the area of Social Services ministry—we have learned to be very hesitant of those who express their assistance—either financial, physical, or otherwise—who start off their offer with, “I’ll give…..BUT”, “I’ll help……BUT”
When your gift of kindness, no matter how much the receiving party is in desperate need of your gift, has strings attached–requiring some kind of payback then STOP! And rethink YOUR OFFER for a moment.
Are you wanting to help this person or organization? Of course you are! But will YOUR act of helping actually HURT more instead? Are you unknowingly putting a millstone around their neck and then gently pushing them into the middle of the lake?
Defensively you say, “Of course not! I’m helping.”
- But are YOU actually trying to manipulate the situation?
- Are you wanting that donation used in a specific yet limiting way?
- Will it put the receiving group into a spot of bondage?
- Will it make it hard for them to use or redistribute the “gift” in the way the organization best sees fit or in the way that would actually optimize it to its best potential?
Is it truly a gift? Or do YOU still have your hands attached to it somehow? Is it FREELY GIVEN?
First hand experience
About 25 years ago, before Barry and I were together, he was going through an especially hard financial period in his life. Someone who knew of his struggle came up to him and said, “I’ve been praying about you and your money struggles and I feel that God has directed to GIVE you some money to help you get back on your feet. Stop by my place later and I’ll have the money ready for you.”
Offering God praises and the glory for answered prayer, Barry went to this home as agreed. A cup of coffee later—the real deal was presented—the paperwork brought out—signature required—schedules arranged—WHAT??? Not given? A loan?
But because of the close connection with this person and Barry ‘s absolute point of desperation for that amount of money—Barry signed and got the money. The millstone was placed around his neck and his sinking into the quicksand mud slowly but surely began.
The millstone of obligation, bondage, and increased personal debt.
Five years passed, Barry and I met and married. Shortly into our marriage, as we worked on our financial situation jointly, Barry shared with me his frustration over this loan “gift” he had received years earlier. He discussed his frustrations over the fact that although not a huge loan by any means, he struggled to get the last and final portion paid off in full.
He described the spiritual bondage that this loan had come attached with. Every time he tried to get ready to make that last payment, something would come up urgently needing the financial attention, whether a needed truck repair, so he could continue working or whatever it was.
So, as a couple, we agreed and prayed about it and how to overcome this financial hurdle together. Within 6 months we finally had that last installment ready to return to the lender.
Together, we armed ourselves to give back this money and have this millstone of financial bondage removed from Barry’s neck.
The lender was shocked and tried to refuse the funds by trying to convince us we couldn’t afford to–”Keep it and pay it later—after all you’re newlyweds with 3 kids—if you couldn’t pay it back as a single—how could you pay it now?”
Well, simply, because Barry wasn’t in this alone anymore—I was there to help carry the other end of the financial “couch”.
Whew! The freedom that came at that moment was exhilarating.
Over the years, other GIFTS, have crossed our paths, but as soon as the strings become evident—we cut them. We try to gently refuse the gift—no matter how badly it is needed—the bondage it comes with is not.
For instance, we’ve had people offer us furniture to give away BUT only IF we could issue them a tax receipt for a charitable donation. We kindly refuse their furniture for a few reasons.
- We are not a registered charity and cannot issue receipts of this kind
- How do you place a dollar amount on a FREE item received and will be given away for FREE?
- We question the giver’s heart motive—are they giving FREELY as a Cheerful Giver? Or are they in it for only what they can get back out of it?–an Income Tax deduction.
The same applies to those offering money—if their main concern is the tax receipt—then keep the money—we don’t need that bondage.
Don’t you ever give $5 or $10 here and there such as a Christmas Cheer Kettle without even thinking of a receipt? How is giving to us or any other organization any different. It isn’t.
But we hear it all the time, “I’d support your organization, BUT, you don’t give tax receipts”. – So it isn’t FREELY given, it has strings.
Why do we have this mentality of “What’s in it for me?”
Even with an organization such as the Scouts—do you just make the DONATION to help them or do you BUY the apple?
For a fundraiser dinner—ARE YOU GIVING $20 or BUYING a meal?
Why do you have to have a tangible, physical item in return for something that should be a FREELY given gift?
Since when did the monetary situation of “What do I get in return?” override your intentions, love, and desire to assist another person?
Do you offer to watch a single mom’s kids for a few hours so she can grocery shop in peace—BUT she has to watch your kids one night so you can go out? That’s a barter—not a gift.
You want PAYBACK. “Give as good as one gets.”
So check yourself—are you a cheerful GIVER? Or a negotiator?
“In everything I have pointed out to you (by example) that, by working diligently in this manner, we ought to assist the weak, being mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, “It is more blessed (makes one happier and more to be envied) to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 (amplified)