Giving, Prosperity, and Protection
A few months ago, I was worshiping at a particular African-American church. I know a few people who are members there and have connected with the pastor, so I visit on occasion. It’s a pleasure to worship there when I can; since this church is full of loving people, and is involved in the community.
Towards the end, it was time to collect the offering. Years ago, in situations like this, I would also feel obligated to give something, but being a visitor, I knew that I could just sit and pass the plate without putting money in.
To my surprise, a grandmother in front of me saw that I was not getting out money, so she turned around and slipped me a dollar. I tried to refuse it, but she insisted.
OK, I thought. No big deal. She wants me to give, so I’ll put this in the offering plate when it comes my way. No big deal.
Except that they don’t pass a plate. To my double-surprise, they dismiss row-by-row, and everyone who has a tithe comes front to put their offering in a collection basket.
Now, as the only white person there, I’m already being noticed. I felt like the stray tater-tot that you find in your order of French fries. Even though you’re happy he’s there, you still notice it and know it seems out of place.
But there was no backing out now.
I had to put the thoughts out of my head of what others would think of me — a first time guest, and a white guy, putting his huge offering in the basket.
I wanted to wave my George Washington in the air and shout, “It’s only a dollar people! And it’s not mine. This nice lady gave it to me.” But I refrained, and silently walked up to the front to give my offering – actually, grandma’s offering — in the basket.
Now, as for the reason this lady gave me this money, I probably would disagree with her. More than likely, she believes that giving is an obligation for God’s blessing. And if you don’t give, God won’t bless you. (Not uncommon in American Christianity, this prosperity gospel cheapens God’s grace.)
But what I appreciate most was that she was looking out for me. From her perspective she saw me with nothing to give, and she perceived a danger in that. She wanted to protect me.
I respect and appreciate her, for what she believed, she acted on.
Am I doing the same? I say, “I trust God,” and I say, “I love others.” But I don’t regularly live that out. I need people like this Grandma to remind me to trust God and love others with every dollar He gives me.
**image courtesy of lusi via rgbstock.com