When you look at all the financial scams taking place now you know people are desperate for money. Some of these people don’t even mind being scammed if it will bring them some money! It, perhaps, is another sign that an increasing number of people are being left out of economic growth.
In this state of affairs, charitable organisations are most affected. The number of people with pictures of their welfare homes to show whoever will see and pledge a donation is a common sight outside banks. I don’t know if what they are doing is legal and whether they are genuinely seeking funds for their homes or simply scamming unsuspecting people. But, it shows that people need money and are resorting to all sorts of activities — manipulating — to get it.
Even churches are affected, especially Protestant churches because — unlike the Catholic church which is centrally funded — they are dependent on their respective congregations for funds.
They, too, are feeling the pinch. On several occasions I have heard the priest or pastor comment from the pulpit how only a few ringgit are dropping into the collection bag!
Their concern is understandable but, sometimes, some people go to unnecessary extremes. At one church I know, the offering time is highlighted as part of worship. Nothing wrong with that because, I guess, if you know God, every aspect of your life is an act of worship. But, when day in and day out you preach that when you bless the church (primarily by giving money) you yourself will be blessed and come out with a verse to show how you should give money to be blessed at every offering time, though well couched, it smacks of just a tinge of manipulation.
It’s a reflection of the strength of your relationship with the congregation. You don’t know them well enough to know if they will support you. You are not sure and you try to strengthen your justification with biblical verses to ask so that people will give because it implies that this is “in the name of God” and the people are obligated.
If your relationship with the congregation is healthy, you will not try to justify your actions in this way. You know your congregation and you trust and respect them enough to just explain the need and simply ask.
In a strong relationship, people will know they should give not out of compulsion but freely because they want to — not because they are made to feel obligated. What they give may not be enough for our needs, but, that is where faith comes in.
If we desperately need something and if we don’t have the faith, we’ll manipulate or find some even illicit way to get it, whether it’s money, love, job. friends, promotions etc, etc.
If we have faith, we’ll trust God and ask honestly and sincerely, giving the other person a “back-out” clause to say no or withdraw. We’ll graciously accept the response and adjust accordingly.
When we have to posture and manoeuvre to ask, it is not by faith. When we ask by faith, we are open-ended and prepared even for a “no” answer. We deal with whatever is the response. And, we do it from a position of strength and confidence.