The privilege of giving

Published 10:32 am Sunday, April 14, 2024

It was a phrase I had heard before, but it hadn’t soaked in like it did that particular Sunday. A minister led in prayer before the offering and prayed, “Lord, thank you for the privilege we have to give.” The offertory was well into the first verse, and the offering plate had already passed me (pre-Covid days!), but the prayer request stayed on my mind.

I remembered the messages I had heard over the years — the ones where the pastor or evangelist read from God’s Word about the tithe, our blessings, and how we should respond to God’s goodness. Obviously, one way was to give back to God as a cheerful giver. In my adolescence I knew the message was directed toward those “tight-fisted” members who never gave according to their blessings. I could tell that because I watched as they fluttered a dollar bill or two into the offering plate. Their lack of generosity was obvious to my young mind; my judgmental attitude wasn’t!

However, the prayer I was still mulling over touched on a totally different angle — gratitude for the PRIVILEGE to give. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? Not everyone is blessed with the privilege to give monetarily to God.

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I immediately thought of the thousands of North Koreans imprisoned for their allegiance to Christ. Their lives are misery every day due to hard labor, torture, starvation and withstanding the freezing winters with no warm clothing or covers. I’ve read testimonies of how they maintain their faith in such unimaginable conditions, but certainly there are no offering plates to pass in a prison camp.

I’ve been a part of numerous worship sessions in nursing homes and assisted living assemblies, but I couldn’t recall a time when an offering was taken. Do those confined by their aging bodies even have funds to use at their discretion?

Multitudes are ill on Sunday mornings, under the care of physicians and nurses in hospitals. Giving is a privilege that probably doesn’t cross their minds as a part of what most Christians think of as a Sunday ritual due to their challenging circumstances.

I have friends serving as missionaries in remote corners of the world. An offertory would be a difficult thing to relate to those who are in darkness and are just hearing about a God who is above every idol they have worshipped.

Then there are those in other places whose existence in poverty doesn’t even allow for personal monies. It’s a daily survival struggle with not even a “mite” to give to God.

The morning’s message was powerful and ministered to me like all the others I had heard the pastor preach, but I had to admit that one prayer request impacted me in such a way I’ll never see or touch an offering plate in the same way again. My gratitude space in my heart has been enlarged — I am grateful for the PRIVILEGE of giving.

Letters to Camille Anding may be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602.