“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8, TNIV)
As Thanksgiving passes in the U.S. Christmas season is on its way. Most people look toward giving to charity at this time of year. As followers of Jesus, we should not be restricting our giving back to Him to the last six weeks of the year, but this time can certainly remind us that we should be giving.
Why should we give? If you’re reading this article, you have access to the internet. That means you have access to a computer, and most likely that means you live above the poverty line. And that means you are far wealthier than most of the world’s population. Giving from your abundance is a way to show God that you are grateful for His provision for you, and that you trust Him to provide for you. As Paul said to the Corinthians, “God loves a cheerful giver.” My pastor used to say that God loves “hilarious givers”—people who give, and give, and find joy in the giving without expecting anything back. God gave us life and His Son, and provides for our needs. The least we can do is share the abundance in an expression of praise.
The list of worthy causes to give to is impossible to compile, but I’ve put together a few of my favorites below. There are many, many more. A good tool for evaluating charities is Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org), which provides financial information on charitable organizations, comparative charts for organizations in different sectors and contact information for the groups.
Angel Tree (www.angeltree.org)
Angel Tree (part of Prison Fellowship) works through local churches and organizations to provide gifts for children with parents in prison. Many churches participate in this program. You choose an “angel,” representing gifts that a child has requested, buy the gifts and they will be delivered to the child. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . .” (James 1:27, TNIV).
World Relief (www.worldrelief.org)
World Relief partners with churches in the poorest countries of the world to help victims of poverty, disease, hunger, war, disasters and persecution. They also responded to work through churches in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. World Relief always needs funds, and their overhead costs are very low so that the money can go straight to the churches. For $22 a month, you can help to sponsor an indigenous missionary family, provide clean water to a village and much more.
Compassion International (www.compassion.net)
Compassion International runs a child sponsorship program. For $32 a month, you can help provide for the educational, spiritual and physical needs of a child in a poor country. You also can write letters to your sponsored child and receive letters from them. I recently began sponsoring a five-year-old girl in India and receiving her letters is a great source of joy to me.
Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org)
Most people have heard of Habitat for Humanity. The organization builds simple, decent, affordable houses for people who need shelter. Habitat especially needs manpower and donations as they help to rebuild after the hurricanes that ravaged the American south this fall.
You can donate to hundreds of other worthy causes as well, and you can be sure that God will take your gifts and use them for His good purposes. I am grateful God gives us the opportunity to give back to Him. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1, TNIV).