All throughout history, giving a gift shows a sign of allegiance to the recipient. Whether the gift is one of time, talent, or treasure, one gives a gift to show appreciation, respect, love, and most of all, need. I don’t give any important person in my life a gift because he/she needs it, but instead, I give the gift because I need that individual. My gift is proclaiming that without that relationship, I would not have the strength to sustain.
We, as a church, give gifts to the individuals in our underserved community, not because they need the gift, but instead, we give the gift because we, as a church, need them. We need them, not in the: come give us your cash type of a way, but we need them in the: without people in a community, we don’t have a church, type of a way.
Women, homeless people, underserved children, or international students who receive gifts should ask the same question as men, homeowners, private-school children, or Harvard graduates do when they receive gifts: “Is this gift suggesting I need this person to survive or is this gift suggesting this person needs me to survive?” People, regardless of classification, must be empowered not suppressed, and if the relationship is not one of empowerment, then that relationship should be severed before dependency is created…or worse: bought.
Ok, so the above was a short article I wrote for a secular publication. To further extrapolate the subject as it relates to our Christian walk, God gives gifts to us, and we give gifts back to Him. But why? And what are they? When God created all things, humanity was a part of that creation. He gave our forefathers the gift of life. He gave them all of creation. He gave it all to them not because they needed it per se, but He gave them life and everything because He wanted them; He wanted us.
Then, disaster struck. As all humans do, our forefathers could not follow instructions. They broke the law, and as a result, they broke the connection with God. For the first time, they were vulnerable. They needed God’s help to cover their faults. This time, He killed what He needed to cover them, for the time being at least. He killed an animal and gave them the coat, not because He wanted to, but for the first time, because they needed it.
That gift of His was temporary. As time progressed, there needed to be a more permanent gift to cover the faults of the people God created. This time, God fixed the problem by breaking the separation that kept man from God. He killed what He needed to cover us, forever. He killed a spotless lamb and gave us the coat, because He wanted to, and because we need it, Him, being Jesus. That is an extremely short history of God’s gifts to us.
Now, why do we give gifts to God? Why do pastors, churches, and religious leaders so frequently ask for gifts? It seems like that is all they do, right? Well, it sort of is. See, as I mentioned earlier in this blog, giving gifts is an indicator of what we need. I give a gift to my friend to tell him I need him. That is healthy. When I start giving him gifts as a way to insinuate to him that he needs me, then that is bad. It is similar with God. We give God our time, talent, and treasure to tell Him that we need Him. When we start to give Him these things in an effort to tell Him that He needs us….well then, that’s silly. The God who created all things does not need us; He wants us. He wants us to rely on Him so that we can do great things for Him. Why do religious leaders ask us to give time, talent, and treasure, because, we, the church people, need it; we need Him.