November is a busy month of celebrations in America: Thanksgiving (eating), Black Friday & and Small Business Saturday (spending), and Giving Tuesday (donating). Donating in November has been associated with the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, called “Giving Tuesday.” It started in 2012 and was founded by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. The day was created as a global generosity movement to encourage and celebrate charitable giving and philanthropy. Since its inception, it has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring acts of kindness and charitable donations across various countries and causes.

Americans gave almost $500 billion to charities in 2022 ($3.1 billion was donated on Giving Tuesday). Why do people give to charity, especially on Giving Tuesday? What inspires people to give? I asked my friend (ChatGPT) why it thinks people should give during Giving Tuesday. The response was:

Participating in Giving Tuesday can offer several benefits and reasons to get involved:

  1. Supporting Causes: It allows you to support causes or organizations you care about.
  2. Global Movement: It’s part of a global movement that encourages generosity and giving.
  3. Impact: Your contribution, no matter the size, can make a significant impact.
  4. Spread Kindness: It’s a chance to spread kindness and inspire others.
  5. Tax Benefits: Depending on your location and the organization you donate to, there might be tax benefits associated with your contributions.
  6. Feel Good Factor: Giving can bring a sense of joy and fulfillment.
  7. Community Engagement: Engaging with your community, whether local or online, during Giving Tuesday can foster a sense of togetherness and shared purpose.

Ultimately, the reasons for participating in Giving Tuesday can vary based on personal values, beliefs, and the desire to make a positive impact. It’s an opportunity to give back, create change, and contribute to making the world a better place.

That list has many positive reasons; my favorite is the “feel-good factor.”  How much of what we do is meant to be for ourselves? It is hard to escape the natural desire for life to revolve around the self. We often have mixed motives simultaneously: a desire to help others and to be recognized for helping someone. Much of human behavior is motivated by the payoff, “What do I get out of it?” The Christian is not free from mixed motives and can often struggle with the same temptation to benefit self.

What should motivate Christians to give?

There are many different reasons, such as stewardship principles, loving our neighbors, and imitating our Savior. There is one particular verse that comes to mind when I think about giving, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). This verse gives the believer freedom in how much to give, protection from wrong motives, and encouragement for right reasons. Some believers believe a 10% tithe is required, and others believe a tithe is more than 10%. Rather than worrying about the amount, the Apostle Paul focuses on what is happening in the heart. He says we should not give reluctantly (do I have to?) or under compulsion (pressured to give) instead with a cheerful heart. A person who has a cheerful heart is not reluctant or under compulsion. That person has already decided in their heart (thoughts, desires, and will) that they want to give and, dare I say, “love to give.”

What can cause this to occur in the heart?

I think it is a response to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the proclamation of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Jesus came to this earth to seek and save those who were lost and separated from God, with no hope to fix that on their own. Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience, fulfilling the perfect law of God, died as a substitute for sin, and was raised to life to prove that he was the Savior. Those who have placed their trust and only hope in Jesus have joy that money cannot buy. One response to that good news is gratitude, which fuels generosity. Christians have an eternal future hope that is fixed and sure to come.

Along with that, believers can give freely, not to pay God back for his grace (we could never pay enough), not trying to gain favor with God (we already have it in Christ), but rather with a response of cheerfulness. The Christian’s “feel-good factor” is an eternal joy and fulfillment because it is a joy that goes beyond this temporary world and looks to eternity with Jesus. Giving our resources helps us to loosen our hands from this world’s temporary things and long for our eternal joy with the Savior.

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