Editorial Consultant, Writing Coach, Freelance Writer
Generosity is an expression of HOW MUCH we give. Stewardship is a matter of HOW WELL we give. “Philanthropic Motivation” (got to find a better word) is all about WHY we give. I think the case can be made for the WHY — that it is by far the most important of the three.
RECIPROCITY: People give because they believe in the principle of reciprocity, that they will receive something in return. Whether it’s financial returns, rewards in heaven, or simply a good feeling, we give to get. Nothing wrong with that; Jesus talked about storing up treasure in heaven and that it was more blessed to give than receive. He also said, “Give and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, running over…” But that is not the end of the idea.
DISINTERESTED BENEVOLENCE (selfless love): The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians saying that if he were to give all his possessions to the poor, but did not have love, it would profit him nothing — no love, no reciprocity. Jesus said that true benevolence (love) was giving to those who could not give back. In other words, giving without expecting anything in return. Not to knock reciprocity, but unconditional giving seems to be the greater thing to do.
GIVING UP: Your motivation to give could have much to do with love for others and faith to believe you will also be blessed. In fact it should. However, the greatest form of giving is when it is done as an act of worship; not just giving in faith to get, not even giving with compassion for someone in need, but giving to God as an act of worship (falith and love included).
With this in mind, where would giving out of mere obligation or guilt fit on that scale of giving motivations. Nothing wrong with giving from a sense of obligation, but how far removed is that from giving in love or giving as worship?