A lot of financial appeals are motivated by guilt. “If you do not give up your candy bar and pop, 3 children will die today.” “Without your giving, I will not be able to go tell others about Jesus.” And so on.
We have all heard them; maybe we have even said them. But were they correct? Or should they have been said? I struggle with the transference of guilt and knowing if it is even accurate. But philosophy aside, let’s look at this method of funding up against the goal of giving being transformational.
In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 many of you know the servant who did not reproduce for the master was called wicked. But note the attitude of the servant. In Mt 25:25 he expresses his feelings about the master. He was AFRAID of him. His whole motivation was not for change but self-preservation.
Giving out of guilt is an act of self-preservation. It says less about the lives we want to change and more about our desire to feel better about ourselves, or too relieve our bad feelings, or too calm our own fears.
Personally I do not feel guilt driven appeals are part of transformational giving. Rather as we grow in Christ we see giving as part of our discipleship journey. So the desire to be Christlike drives giving. If our giving is based on guilt, once the child is sponsored and the guilt is gone so is the giving. But if the giving is reflective of the journey with Christ then the sky is the limit.
Dr. Steve DeNeff is his book SoulShift speaks to the servant in Matthew 25. He shows the attitude of the wicked servant is one of a consumer not a steward. The consumer sees God as stingy and harsh and hopes to be blessed while hiding in fear. The steward sees God as gracious and giving and wants to be a blessing to God. This is a major difference. The steward does not give out of fear or guilt, but out of relationship and blessing.