In many churches, including mine, this time of year is all about stewardship. For a number of weeks now, members of my church have been standing up to share the different ways and reasons they give. It has been good to hear various perspectives and the openness with which people have spoken is really fantastic. A method that I haven’t heard discussed, though, is anonymous giving.
I should preface this by saying that I do not think making a contribution openly is a bad thing. Filling out a commitment card may make it easier for people to honor their commitment and can help the church to plan its budget. I know that anonymous giving is not for everyone, but I have come to the conclusion that it is the right path for me.
I have to own up to a tendency to be a teensy bit self-involved. I’m more a thinker than a doer. But I am making an effort to put myself out there and put others’ needs before my own. I believe that an anonymous gift can help take the focus off of self. I want any contribution I make to reinforce my primary goal – to live as Jesus lived. His life and his death were for the benefit of others and I would like to take a step in the same direction.
Therefore, any commitment I make will be known only to God and to my family. This means no possibility for recognition – and recognition could be something as small as someone in the church office reading my commitment card and thinking “Oh, how nice of them” or my tax preparer noticing my generosity. I don’t need to know what other people think of my gift.
I do not believe a tithe should be about personal reward. A feeling of satisfaction when you do something you feel you should is only natural, but self-sacrifice isn’t about passing a heavenly entrance exam. That would, in fact, be entirely contrary to the idea of self-sacrifice. Doing for others so that you can take the ultimate prize means the action is still self-motivated. Rather, I think of it as a thank you for the access I have to God regardless of whether I give and as a sincere desire to further the work of the church to spread hope for peace and fulfillment.
A few verses I found helpful as I came to a decision about giving:
2 Corinthians 9:7:
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And, in the spirit of doing things sincerely and for the right reasons, Matthew 6: 1-4:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”