"Having" and "Giving"

Written by Drew on November 22nd, 2005

Every year the Catalogue of Philanthropy publishes a Generosity Index ranking each of the 50 states according to their charitable giving. Number one on the list this year is Mississippi. And last, for the fourth year in a row, is New Hampshire.

According to the Associated Press, the index takes into account both “having” and “giving.” It is based on average adjusted gross incomes and the value of itemized charitable donations reported to the Internal Revenue Service on 2003 tax returns, the latest available.

A quick search on Google News reveals that local papers in the states ranked last are coming to the defense of their communities, stating that the manner in which the index measures generosity is flawed. These localities, mostly located in “blue states,” claim they are being penalized for earning higher incomes. If the index were gauged solely upon actual charitable contributions, their states would rank among the highest.

From a biblical point of view, the Catalogue of Philanthropy’s system is legitimate. For when a person gives to a cause, God takes into account both “giving” and “having.”

A widow, having only two mites which make up a penny, casts all that she has into the temple treasury, and Jesus remarks, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mk. 12:43-44).

Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, commends the churches of Macedonia because “their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” Earning below the average wages for their day and time, they gave “beyond their means, of their own free will” (8:2-3, emphasis added).

Contributions given “out of an abundance” are appreciated. But regardless of the amount, they pale in comparison to free will offerings given out of “extreme poverty” and “beyond one’s means.”


1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Athelney Jones says:

    Jolly good. It seems as though Mississippi is good for something after all!

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