Does It Hurt You to Give?
AT EVERY turn the public is called on to give. By mail, telephone, from door to door and from street solicitors the cry is heard: ‘Give.’ ‘Give to charity.’ ‘Your help is needed.’ Appeals are designed to touch the heartstrings and to untie the purse strings. Pocketbooks and purses are pried open by the pressure of public opinion. It is stressed that giving is a religious duty. As a result, in the United State alone close to $5,000,000,000 annually pours into charities from private pockets and purses.
Although the Bible says, “God loves a cheerful giver,” and Jesus stated, “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving,” the public is told to ‘give till it hurts.’ Under pressure people give, and they often testify that it does hurt. But why is giving such a painful experience to so many people when Jesus said it should bring the greater happiness? Have you found that it hurts you to give?—2 Cor. 9:7; Acts 20:35.
Extracting money from the public in the name of God has become a big business enterprise. It is a source of pain, and brings hurt and not happiness to its targets. On April 3, 1960, the London Sunday Express carried the bold headline “Business Experts to Boost R.C. Church Collections.” The organization, Cathos Ltd., with branches throughout Canada and in the United States, Australia and Britain, specializes exclusively in increasing the revenue of the Roman Catholic Church. The London paper described its goal to be to double the income of the Roman Catholic churches in Britain. This venture has the blessing of Roman Catholic primate Cardinal Godfrey.
Part of Cathos’ program is a house-to-house canvass, contacting all Catholic families in a parish to have them sign a pledge wherein they agree to contribute so much a week to the church. Also included is a large “softening up” banquet. Cathos’ first campaign in Britain began this spring in Potters Bar, Middlesex, with a large banquet for 300 parishioners. The announced goal was to boost the annual parish collection from $4,900 to $10,080. Mr. Harold Brinjes, chairman of Cathos, commented: “The people of Potters Bar will give to an extent that hurts them a little. This is part of the normal adjustment after we take over.”
Yes, it hurts to give when one is high-pressured into it, no matter how worthy the cause may be. When one feels compelled to give, if he gives because it will draw frowns and disapproving glances or even words if he does not, then giving does not bring happiness but it hurts. Thus the religious practice of passing a collection plate so that a poor person is felt compelled to compete with the large contribution of a rich person does not make for happiness. The one who is rich, by ostentatiously making a large contribution, gains an immediate reward—‘the glory of men.’ The poor person, feeling the need of keeping up a front of respectability, ‘gives till it hurts him.’ Neither gains the happiness Jesus spoke about.—Matt. 6:2.
On one occasion members of the Christian congregation in Jerusalem came into a time of material need because of a famine in the land. Paul reports that their Christian brothers in Macedonia, even though poor themselves, “of their own accord kept begging us with strong entreaty for the privilege of kindly giving and for a share in the ministry destined for the holy ones.” He testified that they gave even “beyond their actual ability.” No one coerced or shamed the Macedonian Christians into giving, but they wanted to, they begged for the opportunity to give. It made them happy to do so because they knew those whom they dearly loved would be benefited.—2 Cor. 8:1-4.
How can a person today gain happiness in giving? To gain happiness in giving one must develop a generous disposition; he must obey the two greatest commandments: to love Jehovah God with his whole heart, mind, soul and strength, and his neighbor as himself. Having such love, one gives from the heart; he gives because it makes the one he loves happy. He rejoices at the opportunity of expressing his love by giving; he gains greater happiness, even though the one in need who receives is made very happy also. This was the case when the Macedonian Christians gave to their brothers in Jerusalem.
As a modern-day example, consider the Christian witnesses of Jehovah that emerged from Germany’s concentration camps at the close of World War II. Like the Christians in Jerusalem, they were in need of help. Their Christian brothers the world over rejoiced at the privilege of contributing things their German brothers needed. Now these German Witnesses possess a measure of material things, and they have unselfishly contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars over and above what is needed for advancing the preaching work in their own land. This money has aided their brothers and has financed sending missionaries into many lands throughout the world. Who can say that the German Witnesses have not received greater happiness in giving than they did when receiving from their brothers at the close of World War II?
It is true that not all possess material things to give, but they can still gain the greater happiness of giving. Consider the example of the apostle Peter. Outside the temple door there was a cripple requesting gifts of mercy. “Peter said: ‘Silver and gold I do not possess, but what I do have is what I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!’” The man immediately was healed and leaped up with great rejoicing. What happiness Peter must have felt, being able to give health to that appreciative cripple! It is a truth that we today can give a more valuable gift than health. Jesus said it means everlasting life to take in knowledge of him and his Father Jehovah. So gain this knowledge yourself and give it. How your heart will rejoice with unsurpassed joy as you see eyes light up with understanding and glisten with joy as they envision the new world that you have showed can be their firm hope! This giving will bring you no hurt, but will make you really appreciate what Jesus meant when he said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 3:6; 20:35; John 17:3.