Saturday, December 27, 2008

Freely ye have Received, Freely Give

I was reading in Matthew 10 the other day and came across verse 8 that contains the admonition, "Freely ye have received, freely give." Coincidentally I was also reading King Benjamin's address in Mosiah 4 and came across similar admonitions.

It got me thinking about the financial security I have enjoyed, despite being a student, the benefits I get from various organizations, and the obligation I have to support these organizations. I use wikipedia several times a week and strongly believe in their efforts to bring useful information to everyone. I believed in Barack Obama's campaign and the potential good he can bring to the country. I've also listened to days and days of This American Life and consequently now have at least one story that applies to any possible conversation topic. None of these organizations is possible, at least in its current efficacy, without public support, not just social, but monetary support as well.

It is extremely easy to rely on the next person being the one to donate and continue to fund our favorite organizations. However, maybe it is my guilty conscience, but I often feel the nagging need to move myself out of the freeloader category.

In a way, I view donating as both an investment and a test of one's own character. It is often a selfless investment in the future. We are investing in the ability of future generations, no matter what socioeconomic status, to gain information about the world, investing in the preservation of our world's natural resources, investing in the future leadership of our government, etc.

I think it is also a test. It is easy for me to espouse my idyllic views about the world. But when push comes to shove, the true question of my values is asked when those values require sacrifice. It's easy to talk about preserving the environment, or helping kids in Africa, or how great Wikipedia is, but it is a lot more difficult to open up your wallet and really support the causes you "support." And I find that each time I choose to do so, I am a better person. I am less selfish, I feel like I am pulling my weight, I feel responsible, I'm a part of these causes, I've taken ownership, and I've proven to myself that my values are more important than my bank account.

So invest yourself a little. We've received long enough, let's step up and give a little. Prove something to yourself. Find out how much you really believe in what you believe in. Don't let the rest of society pull your weight.

In light of the recent economy, many organizations are facing budget crunches. The ones that survive will be the ones with supporters who step up and give back.

So, in the season of giving, I challenge us all to give to a cause we believe in. It doesn't matter who you give to, as long as you believe in them. It also doesn't matter how much you give, but I'd suggest making it hurt just a little. It'll be good for you. So, if you are up to the challenge, let me know in the comments. Merry Christmas all!

1 comment:

Bruce said...

Well written, as usual. I love this advice:

"I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.... If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them."
—C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Money's been a little tighter for me recently than it has been in a long time, so that quote has hit a little closer to home. It's been interesting to see when deciding when and how much to give where my heart really is.