By Andra Townshend O’Neill
Is it in response to the generosity of God?
That may not be the first thing that comes to mind. For many of us our giving began with the example of our parents. Giving became part of our character. Giving can also be quite practical, sometimes we give because it is a good financial decision for us (tax benefits) or the specific need resonates with us.
Dinners, concerts, bazaars, sometimes giving happens while we are enjoying ourselves with our friends, or helping others. Tim Cestnick, FCPA, FCA, CPA(IL), CFP, TEP, a Financial writer for the Globe and Mail, suggests that each of us give for multiple reasons and identifies what he calls the 7 Faces of Philanthropy, 7 of the most common motivations for giving which along with those mentioned above, includes one “face” for “the devout”. He suggests that knowing why you give can help you make decisions about how and where you give and often also tells us why we say yes to some things and no to others.
For Christians, although we strive to be practical and responsible with our financial resources and like others are motivated to give for various reasons, perhaps we should begin at the beginning, with what we have received. Isn’t the very foundation of our faith that we have received everything – beyond what we can ask or imagine? We were created by God in the image of God, who loves each of us, you and I, known, to the last hair on our heads. And through that love, we receive the gift of Christ, God revealed to us, our redeemer, and promise of life to come. All this we receive by faith through the grace of Christ.
And so although Tim Cestnick’s very helpful model includes “The Devout, Doing Good for Faith Reasons” it doesn’t quite capture why the faithful give. How can it? How do you describe the gratitude of a people that have had their very lives given and redeemed?
Andra Townshend O’Neill is a member of the Diocesan Stewardship Committee.