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|Give To Get?||
Televangelists are back in the headlines again. And again, the news is not good.
The Los Angeles Times has been running a series of articles on Paul and Jan Crouch and the Trinity Broadcasting Network (one of the networks on which our program, LIFE Today, appears.) One headline this week reads, "TBN's Promise: Send Money and See Riches."
As one of those "TV preachers," I would like to address one of the biggest questions that arise from such news articles: When someone gives to a ministry, should they expect a financial return?
Our organization primarily subsides on donations. We share the message of God's love and help countless hungry, thirsty, sick, homeless, and other needy people around the world. We openly ask our television viewers to join us in our humanitarian efforts by giving to a cause. And while I do believe that there is a certain personal benefit that comes from generously giving to help others, I do not believe it can ever be tied strictly to money. The joy that my wife, Betty, and I receive from saving and enriching the lives of others goes far beyond any financial return.
We believe in helping others because Jesus clearly tells us that we must take care of those in need. Those who lack for food, water, covering, freedom and health deserve our help with no expectation of return. Jesus said, "love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back." (Luke 6:35)
If we should give money to our enemies, how much more should we give to those who are not our enemies, but are in need?
Helping others is, in itself, great gain in joy, peace, and a sense of accomplishment. Giving primarily to "get" misses the great truth Jesus shared, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." The "what's in it for me" mentality prevailing in much of the advanced world is robbing the poor of the blessing love affords and others the joy of sharing it.
Let's face it, when our ministry spends millions of dollars to help feed the hungry children of Africa, we do not expect this to develop into some profitable business venture. Never has our CFO sat down and said, "If we help feed x number of children for x number of years, we should start seeing a return on our investment in ten years." We expect no monetary return on charity.
If the focus is on the return, then why give charitably? In that frame of mind, there is no good reason. As Christians, we give out of obedience to Jesus Christ and out of compassion for those who suffer. Both of those reasons merit our gifts. Jesus said to give to those in need, so we give to those in need. In the process, we share God's love. The Bible says that the world will know that we are Christians by our love. How can we pretend to love someone if we don't meet his or her most basic needs? Even non-Christians can show compassion toward the suffering, so why shouldn't Christ's followers? If we really love the Lord, we will give, cheerfully, to meet the needs of the world without focusing on any type of financial return from God.